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Thursday, June 17, 2010


House of Commons Debates



Thursday, June 17, 2010

Speaker: The Honourable Peter Milliken

    The House met at 10 a.m.



[Routine Proceedings]



Commissioner of Lobbying

    I have the honour pursuant to section 11 of the Lobbying Act to lay upon the table the report of the Commissioner of Lobbying for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2010.

Air India

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 32(2) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the final report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182.
    The government recognizes the extensive work of Justice John Major in preparing his final report and, as ever, our thoughts are with the families of the victims of this tragic event.
    This incident stands as a reminder that Canadians are not immune to acts of terrorism. We can and we must remain vigilant in order to ensure that all Canadians remain safe.


    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the motion adopted by the committee, the Standing Committee on Status of Women studied the issue of maternal and child health at its meetings held on May 3, 5, 10, 12 and 26, and June 7, 9 and 14—


    Order, please. I believe this is a committee report and we are on tabling of documents which are not committee reports. They will come later. Is there any other tabling of documents?


    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to table, in both of our country's official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on National Defence—
    It is not yet time for presenting committee reports. It is now the period for the tabling of documents.


Government Response to Petitions

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 36(8) I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the government's response to 23 petitions.

Strengthening Aviation Security Act

Hon. Gordon O'Connor (for the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities)  
     moved for leave to introduce Bill C-42, An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Modernization Act


Interparliamentary Delegations

    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to Standing Order 34(1) I have the honour to present to the House, in both official languages, the report of the Canadian delegation to the Canada-China Legislative Association and the Canada-Japan Inter-Parliamentary Group respecting its participation at the 14th annual Assembly of the Asia-Pacific Parliamentarians Conference on the Environment and Development, APCED, held in Koror, Palau from November 17 to November 19, 2009.


Committees of the House

National Defence 

    Mr. Speaker, as member of Parliament for Beauce and as Chair of the Standing Committee on National Defence, I have the honour to table, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on National Defence on its study of Arctic sovereignty. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.
    Mr. Speaker, pursuant to the motion adopted by the committee, the Standing Committee on Status of Women studied the issue of maternal and child health at its meetings held on May 3, 5, 10, 12 and 26, and June 7, 9 and 14, 2010.
    Through you, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to provide the Minister of International Cooperation with the government members' assessment of this study, with some conclusions from the report adopted in committee on June 14, 2010, and tabled in the House, in both official languages, by the committee chair on June 16, 2010.
    Mr. Speaker, the official report was tabled in the House yesterday, so the parliamentary secretary is trying to contravene the Standing Orders. She is trying to table a dissenting report that contains a different opinion than in the report that was tabled. Time ran out before it could be tabled yesterday. In my opinion, she cannot do indirectly today what she did not want to do directly yesterday; to include her negative report in the report tabled. I therefore object to the tabling of her dissenting report.
    I did not hear every word that the hon. parliamentary secretary said, but if that is not the committee's report, it cannot be tabled today during the time for committee reports.


Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present today, in both official languages, the first report of the Special Committee on the Canadian Mission in Afghanistan entitled, “Report on a Trip to Afghanistan”.

Veterans Affairs  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs entitled, “A Timely Tune-up for the Living New Veterans Charter”.
    I wish to thank all committee members for their work and dedication. I can say that this report is a collective work from all political parties to see a good and workable document produced for the well-being of our heroes, veterans, injured soldiers facing difficulties and also their families.


Foreign Affairs and International Development  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the first report of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development concerning the situation at Rights & Democracy entitled “Rights & Democracy: Moving Towards a Stronger Future”. Pursuant to Standing Order 109, the committee requests that the government table a comprehensive response to this report.



Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour today to present, in both official languages, the second report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in relation to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.


    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the sixth report of the Standing Committee on Health entitled, “Promoting Innovative Solutions to Health Human Resources Challenges”.

Canadian Heritage  

    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the third report of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage in relation to the emerging and digital media opportunities and challenges.


    Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to present, in both official languages, the fourth report of the Standing Committee on Finance in relation to the retirement income security of Canadians.
    I would like to thank all committee members for their work, as well as the clerk, the analysts and all the staff who helped us prepare this report.

National Housing Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a bill that would harness CMHC's $2 billion annual surplus to the goal of sheltering Canadians, a goal from which CMHC has strayed over the years.
     This bill would amend section 21 of the National Housing Act, requiring CMHC's unappropriated retained earnings to be transferred to provinces to provide housing for low income households. It would pose no financial risk to CMHC, which maintains twice the level of capital reserves recommended by OSFI, but it would guide it in fulfilling its mandate to help Canadians in need access affordable, sound and suitable housing.
    Finally, it would help all of us attain the right to housing that the Government of Canada pledged to uphold when it ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights more than three decades ago.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Forgiveness of Student Loans for Health Professionals Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a bill that would help students and improve access to basic medical care for people across the country.
    We know that regular checkups and preventative health care are far better and cheaper for Canadians than ignoring health problems until a trip to the hospital is required, but far too many families do not have access to a family doctor.
    My bill would freeze student loan payments for the first five years after graduation for all doctors and nurse practitioners who agree to practise family medicine in an underserved area. After five years, their student debt would be decreased by 20% for each year they continue to serve as family doctors or nurse practitioners in underserved communities. The effect would be that after 10 years of practising family medicine, their student debt would be totally forgiven.
    Last year I met with representatives of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students and they told me about the crippling debt burden faced by many medical graduates.
    This bill would help these hard-working students who are dedicating their lives to serving the public and it would help get more family doctors and nurse practitioners into communities that need them.
    I ask all members of the House to support this practical idea to strengthen our public health care system for all Canadians.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Investment Canada Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to table my bill entitled, An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act . I am pleased that this bill is being seconded by my colleague from Churchill.
     Liberal and Conservative governments have consistently rubber-stamped foreign takeovers of Canadian companies without any transparency or accountability to the Canadian people. When parliamentarians seek details of these takeovers, they are told by the industry minister that they are not allowed.
    This bill would change all that. It seeks to expand section 36 of the Investment Canada Act to include members of the Standing Committee on Industry. Amending section 36 in such a way would provide meaningful oversight by parliamentarians and would allow a multi-party review of foreign takeovers. This would provide greater public confidence in the process.
    For too long, federal industry ministers have hidden behind section 36 of the Investment Canada Act to deny stakeholders and the public access to the terms of agreements between foreign companies and the federal government.
    With this act, the Ministry of Industry would now have to co-operate with parliamentarians in the industry committee and that is a much needed improvement in the current act.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)


Canada Elections Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, for a number of years Canadians have been demanding democratic renewal of Canada's Parliament.
    With a changing cultural landscape, Canada's Parliament should be representative of the diversity that is celebrated in this country. Sadly, the reality is that today, less than 25% of the total elected members of the House of Commons are women. That is why this morning I am tabling a bill that would alter the formula of special allowances per vote received by political parties.


    My bill would amend the Elections Act to provide a special quarterly allowance for registered parties in which a certain percentage of the members elected are women.
    In addition to the existing quarterly allowances paid to political parties, which is $1.95 per year for each valid vote cast, the bill provides for a special quarterly allowance for parties in which women represent 20% of the elected members. The 20% threshold was selected because it corresponds to an overall average in the House of Commons, where for several decades now, women have held at least 20% of the total number of seats.
    The proportion of women in the House has never been higher than 30%. Although it has been as high as 25% or 30%, it has since fallen and now varies between 20% and 25%.
    This would be a special quarterly allowance of 20¢ to 40¢ per year, depending on the percentage of women elected for each political party.

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canada Elections Act

    She said: Mr. Speaker, my bill would amend the Canada Elections Act to provide a special quarterly allowance for registered parties in which a certain percentage of the members elected are aboriginal people, members of visible minorities and persons with disabilities.
    In addition to the quarterly allowance given to political parties, which is currently set at $1.95 a year per valid vote, my bill would provide a special quarterly allowance to parties in which 10% of their elected representatives are part of a designated group. A threshold of 10% was chosen because visible minorities were approximately 16.2% of the population in 2006, which was an increase over the 2001 level of 13.4%. In 2017, it is estimated that between 19% and 23% of Canadians will be from visible minorities, while aboriginals account for 1.2 million Canadians and persons with disabilities, 4.4 million. For each quarter, the allowance would be calculated as follows: 10¢ per year if the proportion of people from these groups is between 10% and 19% of the party's total elected members, 20¢ per year if that proportion is between 20% and 29%, and 30¢ per year if the proportion of people from these groups is more than 30%.
    I hope that my colleagues will support both these bills.

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)



Protecting Canadians Abroad Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce an act to protect Canadian citizens abroad in support of the foundational principle that all Canadian citizens, without discrimination, deserve the protection of the Government of Canada while detained, stranded, captured or disappeared abroad.
    There are a number of high profile cases, including those of Maher Arar, Omar Khadr and Abousfian Abdelrazik, and the related jurisprudence that have underscored the need for legislation setting forth both the rights of Canadian citizens, as well as the threshold obligations of the Government of Canada and its consular services.
    Accordingly, this legislation, the first ever of its kind, would affirm these rights and obligations, including rights to consular access, consular visits and repatriation; reporting requirements for Canadian officials when they suspect a Canadian detained or captured abroad has been or may be tortured; and requiring that the government request the repatriation of a Canadian detained abroad in situations where there are reasonable grounds to believe that the Canadian has been or may be tortured, is being subjected to conditions constituting cruel or unusual punishment, or is being arbitrarily detained.
    I trust that this bill will enjoy the support of all members of the House.

    (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to introduce a bill that speaks on behalf of those vulnerable people who are denied immigration status because of their health condition.
    This bill looks to stop discrimination against people living with disabilities by improving our Immigration and Refugee Protection Act and making it fair and equitable.
    I want to thank my former colleague, Judy Wasylycia-Leis, for all her work on this issue in the past, and her work in favour of those living with disabilities and protecting their rights.
    The act currently suggests discriminating against people living with disabilities by prohibiting them from immigrating to Canada since they might represent an excessive burden on our society. That was the case of David and Sophie Barlagne, a French family that was told by the Federal Court that their daughter, Rachel, who has cerebral palsy, constituted an excessive demand on the social service resources of the province of Quebec, even though the family can support her. Through these actions, the government is telling the family that their child is a burden.
    That is the reason this bill guarantees an opportunity of an appeal process for people with a disability who have applied for immigration but have been turned down. This bill would allow them to prove they have abilities that need to be recognized and that in fact they will not pose an excessive demand on our society, but on the contrary they can contribute greatly to our country.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Immigration and Refugee Protection Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to introduce a bill that amends the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. It amends section 38 that excludes people with disabilities from immigrating to Canada, even though they have been accepted by the provincial government and have the financial means to support themselves.
    Canada signed the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities while still systematically undermining it by falling back on old stereotypes.
    Tonight in Toronto, the Canadian Paraplegic Association will be celebrating its 65th year of existence and of its excellent work.
    No one should be deported or barred from Canada after becoming physically disabled in Canada. I urge all members to support equal rights for all persons in Canada.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)


Criminal Code

     She said: Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to rise in the House today to present this bill. I would like to thank the member for Vancouver Kingsway for seconding this bill.
    This bill is very important because it amends provisions of the Criminal Code to establish principles related to sentencing and describe the aggravating circumstances that require increased sentences to be imposed.
    The bill requires an increased sentence where there is evidence that the offence was motivated by bias, prejudice, or hate based on social condition of the victim.
    This bill is the companion to another bill that I will be introducing on social condition. It is done in recognition that there are people in our society who are disadvantaged because of social condition, because of poverty, homelessness, education and background and that they do face prejudice and discrimination. It is very important that we have the tools to address the reality they face in their daily lives.
    I hope that all members will support this bill. This issue has been before the House many times. In fact, there have been many studies on the issue of social condition and how people do not have protection. This bill is aimed at addressing that to ensure there is dignity and respect for people based on social condition.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Canadian Human Rights Act

     She said: Mr. Speaker, this is the companion bill to the one I just introduced. I would like to thank the hon. member for Nickel Belt for seconding this bill.
    This bill would amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of social condition. In doing so it would protect from discrimination people who are experiencing social or economic disadvantage, such as adequate housing, homelessness, source of income, occupation, level of education, poverty, or any similar circumstance. As the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation and many other organizations have pointed out, a person's standing in society is often determined by his or her occupation, income, education level or family background.
    As legislators, we know that we must be aware that tools are very much needed to promote and protect the economic and social rights of Canadians. This bill would send an important message to the public that people who are disadvantaged because of their social condition are equally deserving of dignity and protection from discrimination.
    I hope that all members of the House will support this bill.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Cell Phone Freedom Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce the cell phone freedom act. This bill would take an important step toward providing more consumer choice and to promoting competition in the wireless market. It would strike a healthy balance on the issue of mobile phone network locks.
    Most Canadian consumers do not know that their cell phones are locked to work only on the network of the carrier they bought their phone from and that they cannot easily move to a competitor. Unlike most other countries, Canada does not yet regulate these network locks. That diminishes competition. There is much less consumer choice and freedom of movement between service providers, and higher prices and worse services for consumers.
    The cell phone freedom act would level the playing field for Canadian cell phone customers. Consumers buying new cell phones in Canada would be informed of any network lock on their phones before sale. Phone companies would have to unlock new phones upon request, without charge, at the end of their service contracts.
    Let us stand up for competition and consumers and support the cell phone freedom act.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)


Fisheries Act

     He said: Mr. Speaker, I am introducing a bill which would address a practice that is occurring with increasing frequency and which is of enormous concern to those of us who would like to see Canada's freshwater lakes better protected. This practice is the practice of mining companies asking for permission under the metal mining effluent regulations to use healthy freshwater lakes as dumping grounds for mine tailings.
    Unfortunately, permission for that practice is being granted much too easily. This bill would close the loophole in the Fisheries Act which allows that practice to occur.

     (Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)

Business of Supply

    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, during the consideration of the Business of Supply on the last allotted day in the supply period ending June 23, 2010, at 6:30 p.m. the House shall proceed to the consideration of a motion or motions to concur in the Main Estimates, provided that, unless previously disposed of, a Member from each recognized party may speak for not more than 10 minutes on the motion, after which the Speaker shall interrupt the proceedings and put forthwith, without further debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the opposition motion and forthwith thereafter put successively, without debate or amendment, every question necessary to dispose of the motion or motions to concur in the Main Estimates and the Supplementary Estimates (A), and notwithstanding Standing Order 71, for the passage at all stages of any bill or bills based on the main or supplementary estimates.
    Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

Committees of the House

Public Accounts  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two travel motions.
    I move:
    That eleven members of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts be authorized to travel to Quebec City, Quebec, to attend the Conference of the Canadian Council of Public Accounts, in August 2010 and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.
    Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


    That, during its consideration of matters pursuant to Standing Order 83.1, the Standing Committee on Finance be authorized to adjourn from place to place within Canada and to permit the broadcasting of its proceedings thereon, and that the necessary staff accompany the Committee.
    Does the hon. chief government whip have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)


    Mr. Speaker, there have been discussions among the parties and if you were to seek it, I believe you would find unanimous consent for the following motion. I move:
    That, on the one-year anniversary of the fraudulent Iranian election, this House expresses its solidarity with the people of Iran; condemns the loss of life, beatings, and unjust imprisonment of those who peacefully protested; supports the democratic movement in Iran; welcomes the new UN sanctions against the Iranian regime; calls upon the regime to cease and desist from the illegal pursuit of nuclear weapons in violation of UN Security Council Resolutions and international law; and expresses its hope that the Iranian people will soon live in peace, security, and freedom.


    Does the hon. member for Mount Royal have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The House has heard the terms of the motion. Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

    Mr. Speaker, I request that Motion No. 547 be adopted by this place by unanimous consent.
    I move, “That, in the opinion of the House, the government should engage in direct diplomatic efforts, in partnership with other countries and organizations, to have the government of the Russian Federation: (a) formally recognize the murder of Polish nationals in the spring of 1940 in the Katyn Forest in Russia, the Kalinin and Kharkov prisons and elsewhere as a war crime, as defined by Article 175 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and as a crime against the Polish state; and (b) release all documents and archives relating to this event to the Polish government at a public ceremony”.
    Does the hon. member Parkdale--High Park have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    Some hon. members: No.



Pay Equity  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition regarding pay equity. I have gathered over 1,000 signatures of men and women from my riding who want all female workers in Quebec to be covered by legislation that guarantees equal pay for men and women, given that female workers who come under the Canada Labour Code do not enjoy the same protection as their co-workers who come under the Quebec Labour Code.
    The petitioners also denounce the changes made—with the support of the Liberals—in the government's most recent budget, changes that make pay equity part of collective agreement negotiations. Rights are rights, and must not be toyed with.


Agristability Program  

    Mr. Speaker, I have before me a petition from many agriculture farmers and agri-business people in my riding. Food production in Ontario is threatened by factors beyond the control of its farmers. Federal and provincial programs designed to manage risk and stabilize income for farmers are no longer working favourably for the majority of producers and need to be repaired.
    Therefore, my petitioners respectfully request that the House of Commons immediately move to amend the terms of qualification for the agristability program as proposed by the Ontario Agricultural Sustainability Coalition.

Canada Pension Plan  

    Mr. Speaker, just a little over a week ago, I had the privilege of introducing Bill C-527 to the House and petitions are already flooding in, in support of that bill. The petitioners are essentially saying that spousal homicide should not pay.
    Currently, it is possible for someone convicted of killing their spouse to collect CPP survivor benefits and/or the death benefit. It is also currently possible for someone convicted of killing their spouse to collect survivor benefits and/or the death benefit under the CPPD. It is a long-established principle in law that no one should be able to benefit from the commission of a crime and that principle must be enshrined in the eligibility criteria for government benefit programs.
    The petitioners are asking Parliament to immediately pass Bill C-527, which amends the Canada pension plan to prohibit the payment of a survivor's pension, orphan's benefit or death benefit to a survivor or orphan of a deceased contributor if the survivor or orphan has been convicted of the murder or manslaughter of the deceased contributor.
    While I know that the rules of the House do no permit me to endorse a petition, let me just say how delighted I am that people are taking up this cause in such an active way.


    Mr. Speaker, I would like to present a petition that was sent to me by Mr. Michael Destounis. It includes many signatories from my riding of Lac-Saint-Louis. The petition is for Canada to do more for peace in Darfur and, more generally, in Sudan.
    There are a number of measures that the petitioners would like to see the government pursue. One is to pledge increased diplomatic, financial, logistical and training support to the United Nations and African Union, and to sustain and increase our humanitarian commitments to Sudan and especially to the Darfur region.



Use of Wood in Federal Buildings  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition here today signed by several hundred citizens of Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou who are calling on the House of Commons to quickly pass Bill C-429.
    The petitioners believe that this bill sends a clear message to the Government of Canada and to the public about the many opportunities afforded by wood technology and the resources we have in Quebec and Canada, in addition to stimulating wood consumption. The petitioners are pointing out that passing such a bill would serve to help thousands of workers, businesses, families and communities affected by the forestry crisis and the forest itself, which needs to be cleaned up as soon as possible because of numerous forest fires.
    In closing, I would like to say that I fully support the petitioners' initiative and I hope this government will consider it.


Canada Post  

    Mr. Speaker, I have here over 700 names of people from South Okanagan and other parts of British Columbia who are concerned about the fact that Canada Post has announced that it will be removing mail processing from local cities, towns and communities in British Columbia, and sending it to Vancouver.
    They are saying that this will result in the reduction of service and loss of good paying jobs, which will negatively affect communities already hit hard by the economic recession. They ask the Government of Canada to ensure that Canada Post does the following: support local economies by preserving local jobs and maintaining mail processing at post offices in local cities, towns and communities.
    They ask that, prior to making any changes to their mail processing and transportation network, Canada Post conduct a thorough and in-depth study into the service and economic impact on local communities and, using those results, hold full, open and transparent consultation with the local communities that will be impacted by the changes.
    They also ask that Canada Post reveal its long-term operational plans to Parliament and the Canadian public.

Aboriginal Healing Foundation  

    Mr. Speaker, I rise to present a petition calling on the government to save the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. It has been signed by people across Canada from all provinces and territories.
    Many signatories are deeply disappointed in the government's failure to support the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. While there are a few healing centres still in operation across the country, many first nations, Métis and Inuit people have lost critical healing programs in their communities.
    Today, on the third day of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission hearings in my home province of Manitoba, the voices of Canadians stand loud and clear that the government has a duty to aboriginal people to live up to the historic apology and truly engage in a process of reconciliation.


    Mr. Speaker, I am tabling today a petition that has been signed by several dozen Canadians from the west: from Surrey, Burnaby and Vancouver, British Columbia, but also from eastern Canada: Toronto, Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec. All of them are appealing to the Government of Canada to look again at the issue of the deportation order of José Figueroa.
    Mr. Figueroa was a resident of El Salvador. He moved to Canada to escape a brutal right-wing military regime. He was involved politically with the FMLN, now the democratically elected and legitimate government of El Salvador. Inexplicably, the government is trying to deport him based on labelling the FMLN, the governing party in El Salvador, as a subversive organization.
    These many petitioners from across Canada beg the government to reconsider this untenable position.

Eco-energy Retrofit Program  

    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to present a petition signed by dozens of people in my riding of Parkdale—High Park to bring attention to the decision by the government to not accept any further applications this year under the eco-energy retrofit program.
    My constituents who signed the petition are urging the government to provide adequate funding to allow all Canadians to successfully claim grants under the program during the entire year of 2010, which it said it would do in the original budget. This follows the government's cancellation of the original retrofit program taking away programs for small business and for low incomes, and now stifling the one that it did restore.
    The petition is signed by people generally disappointed with the government's lack of action on climate change, the one program that is working. They would like to see it resourced by the government ahead of its other priorities, obviously.


    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions today and the first is on the one we just heard about.
    I would like to present a petition from my riding of Thunder Bay—Superior North signed by Canadians from there and across the country who are concerned with the government's cancellation this past March of the eco-energy retrofit program for homes. They point out that only a single day's notice was given for the cancellation of this vital program, leaving homeowners and small businesses at a loss.
    They are calling upon the Government of Canada to either restore funding for that program or create an equivalent national home energy evaluation and retrofit program.


    Mr. Speaker, the second petition and equally important is one from residents of Terrace Bay, Nipigon, Marathon, Schreiber, Gull Bay and Thunder Bay who are deeply concerned with the precarious financial situation many seniors face in this country. Petitioners point out that less than 40% of Canadians have workplace pensions and 300,000 seniors have to survive on poverty level incomes and that is unconscionable.
    They call on Parliament to increase the guaranteed income supplement, to work to double the Canada pension plan benefits, and to develop a national pension insurance program.

Air Passengers' Bill of Rights  

    Mr. Speaker, I have two petitions today.
    The first is signed by dozens of Canadians. It calls on Parliament to adopt Canada's first air passengers' bill of rights, new Bill C-541. Only in the last six months the Obama administration in the United States has moved ahead of Canada by penalizing airlines for $27,500 per passenger for tarmac delays over three hours and Ray LaHood recently charged Southwest Airlines $120,000 for overbooked flights.
    The Canadian bill of rights would compensate passengers on all Canadian carriers anywhere they fly. It would provide compensation for overbooked flights, cancelled flights and long tarmac delays. It would deal with late and misplaced baggage, and would require all-inclusive pricing by airlines in all of their advertising.
    Europe has had an air passengers' bill of rights for over five years now. Recently, a passenger recounted to me how much better treatment he received in Europe than in Canada with the same airline. The new rules have to be posted at the airline counter. The airlines must inform the passengers of their rights and the process to file for compensation. If the airlines follow the rules, it will cost them nothing.
    The petitioners call on the government to pass Canada's air passengers' bill of rights, Bill C-541.

Earthquake in Chile  

    Mr. Speaker, the second petition is signed by dozens of Canadians and calls on the Canadian government to match funds personally donated by the citizens of Canada to the victims of the earthquake in Chile.

Questions on the Order Paper

    Mr. Speaker, the following questions will be answered today: Nos. 233, 235, 238, 239, 240, 248, 251 and 252.


Question No. 233--
Ms. Kirsty Duncan:
     With respect to chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), the “liberation” procedure, and multiple sclerosis (MS): (a) does Health Canada recognize the International Union of Phebology (IUP), and is Canada a member; (b) does Health Canada recognize the IUP’s Consensus Document on the diagnosis and treatment of venous malformations; (c) will Health Canada be respecting the IUP’s standards regarding diagnosis and treatment of venous malformations; (d) will the government work with the provinces and territories to establish imaging and treatment guidelines for CCSVI and, if so, over what timeline and, if not, why not, (i) what are the benefits and risks associated with imaging and treatment techniques, (ii) what are the costs for each of the identified methods; (e) will the government, in collaboration with the provinces and territories, commit to imaging MS patients for venous malformations, and treating those patients who require interventions and, if not, why not and, if so, (i) over what timeline, (ii) what barriers would have to be overcome; (f) is CCSVI recognized as an official diagnosis and, if so, by what professional medical organizations and how is it defined; (g) what is the cause of narrow veins in the neck or thorax and what methods could possibly be undertaken to reduce their occurrence either in utero, in childhood, or in adulthood; (h) with what medical conditions is CCSVI associated; (i) what are the potential health impacts of CCSVI in the short-term, medium-term and long-term, both with and without treatment; (j) what percentage of MS patients show one or more blocked veins; (k) what veins, other than the jugular veins, are commonly blocked, damaged, or twisted in the human body, (i) what imaging procedures are used to identify the problems, (ii) what interventions are required to address the problems and why, (iii) what are the possible health impacts if left untreated, (iv) are interventions time sensitive, (v) what are the costs of imaging procedures and treatment; (l) what specific methods are used to investigate CCSVI, what costs are associated with each method, and what are the benefits and risks associated with these techniques; (m) where in Canada are these imaging methods available and, for each location, what procedures are offered and how much do they cost; (n) where in the world are private clinics emerging, what are their efficacy and safety records, and what are the imaging and treatment costs; (o) what percentage of MS patients show a reduction in MS attacks and brain lesions following the liberation procedure; (p) what percentage of MS patients with little or mild blockage show improvement following the liberation procedure; (q) what discussions is the government having regarding CCSVI, its imaging, and the possible link with MS; (r) what studies are government scientists conducting to assess the reliability and validity of imaging techniques, the possible association between CCSVI and MS, and to follow-up on patients who have undergone the liberation procedure; (s) how much money has the government allocated to research related to CCSVI, the liberation procedure and MS; (t) what is the estimated number of MS patients in Canada, and what is (i) the percentage who can no longer work, (ii) the percentage who depend on family caregivers, (iii) the percentage who require around-the-clock care from professional caregivers; (u) what is the estimated national annual economic impact of MS on families and healthcare plans; (v) what is the estimated national annual cost of disease-modifying therapies, including Copaxone and Interfon, for families and healthcare plans; (w) what are the projected imaging costs for CCSVI and treatment costs for MS patients who show a vascular abnormality; (x) what are the projected imaging costs for CCSVI and treatment costs for all MS patients; (y) what recommendations regarding CCSVI and imaging are being provided by the government to MS patients, particularly regarding (i) reputable imaging and treatment clinics, (ii) the pros and cons regarding venoplasty and stents, (iii) the need for continuing treatment regimes following any liberation procedure; (z) what steps is the government taking to educate MS patients about blogger patients and sham imaging and treatment centres; and (aa) what is the estimated number of Canadians who have gone overseas for imaging and treatment, and what tracking is being undertaken of their condition following such trips?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, with respect to Health Canada, questions related to the treatment and diagnosis of chronic cerebro-spinal venous insufficiency, CCSVI, are of a clinical nature and are best directed toward the provinces and territories and their respective physician associations. The Canada Health Act requires provincial and territorial health insurance plans to provide medically necessary hospital and physician services to their residents on a prepaid basis, and on uniform terms and conditions. The provincial and territorial governments, in consultation with their respective physician associations, are primarily responsible for determining whether new treatments for CCSVI are medically necessary for health insurance purposes.
    With respect to Canadian Institutes of Health Research, through the CIHR, the government is funding health research on multiple sclerosis, MS. In 2008-09 investments related to MS totalled approximately $5.3 million. CIHR also invested $120.5 million in the larger area of neurosciences research in 2008-2009 and approximately $38 million in stem cell research which is being pursued for the potentially useful therapies it may offer in the treatment of health conditions and diseases such as multiple sclerosis. CIHR also funds a great deal of research related to stroke, much of which focuses on the vascular component of the disease. In 2008/09 CIHR funded approximately $22.9 million in stroke research. All of these investments are building our overall understanding of multiple sclerosis toward more effective treatment and ultimately a cure. CIHR has been consulting with the research community and will be convening, in close collaboration with the MS Society, an international meeting of top scientists to identify research priorities for Canada and accelerate research and innovation on MS.
    CIHR has not funded research on the possible relationship between MS and impaired venous drainage of the central nervous system or CCSVI since no researchers working in this area have applied for funding. However, CIHR is funding Drs. Bruce Pike and Douglas Arnold of McGill University who are working to advance functional magnetic resonance imaging to permit robust and continuous monitoring of cerebral blood flow, volume, and oxygen consumption. While their study is targeted to Alzheimer’s patients, the results will also increase our knowledge of the role that obstructed blood flow may play in MS. Drs. Pike, Arnold and Dr. John Sled are also collaborating on research to develop an MRI technique more able to detect tissue damage than current methods. The research will allow the tissue damage in MS patients to be comprehensively and quantitatively assessed, will lead to increased knowledge on the natural evolution of the disease and will enable the evaluation of new therapies that attempt to slow or stop the progression of this disease.
    It is quite possible that the recent interest in the possible relationship to multiple sclerosis of impaired venous drainage of the central nervous system, or, Chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI), will draw more scientists to pursue MS research. CIHR would welcome funding applications through its ongoing programs such as the Open Operating Grants competition. The next competition has a registration deadline date of August 16 and an application deadline date of September 15.
    With respect to Public Health Agency of Canada, estimates from the 2000-2001 Canadian Community Health Survey indicate that approximately 57,600 Canadians aged 12 and older living in private households have been diagnosed with MS by a health professional. This estimate does not include individuals living in institutions. The National Population Health Study on Neurological Conditions announced by the federal Minister of Health on June 5, 2009 will provide additional data by 2013.
    (i) Estimates from the 2000-2001 Canadian Community Health Survey indicate that of individuals aged 15 years to 75 years of age who have MS, 23% reported that they were permanently unable to work. Updated information on labour force participation among individuals with MS will become available with the National Population Health Study on Neurological Conditions.
     (ii) Although the 2000-2001 Canadian Community Health Survey included an optional module on home care, the survey module included too few individuals with MS to report reliable estimates of the percentage of MS patients who depend on family caregivers. The purpose of the 4-year National Population Health Study on Neurological Conditions is to fill gaps in knowledge about individuals with neurological conditions, their families, and caregivers.
    (iii) An estimate of the percentage of MS patients in Canada who require around-the-clock care from professional caregivers is not currently available. A component of the 4-year National Population Health Study on Neurological Conditions will measure the prevalence of selected neurological chronic conditions among the institutionalized population and will provide new estimates on Canadians with neurological conditions, including MS, who are receiving care in nursing homes that provide 24-hour care.
    The Public Health Agency of Canada estimates that the direct health care costs and costs from loss of economic productivity associated with MS in 2000-2001 were $950.5 million. Direct costs associated with MS estimated in 2000-2001 were $139.2 million: $58.4 million for hospital care, $12.1 million for physician care and $68.7 million for drugs. Indirect costs associated with MS estimated in 2000-2001 were $811.3 million: $172.8 million (21.3%) in loss productivity due to premature mortality and $638.45 million (78.7%) in long-term disability costs. Short-term disability costs are not included in the estimates of morbidity costs, and therefore underestimate indirect costs. Source: Canadian Institute for Health Information, The Burden of Neurological Diseases, Disorders and Injuries in Canada (Ottawa: CIHI, 2007).
Question No. 235--
Mr. Bill Siksay:
     What is the government’s position with regard to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and the development of a new NATO Strategic Concept?
Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the current NATO strategic concept review process will provide an opportunity for the NATO Alliance, Alliance, to take stock of developments in the international security situation and make adjustments to NATO nuclear policy, as necessary and appropriate. Canada supports a NATO nuclear policy that balances our strong commitment to non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament and our national security requirements.
    Canada’s longstanding policy objective is the non-proliferation, reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. We continue to work with our allies in NATO toward achieving this goal.
    All NATO allies are party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and the alliance has repeatedly affirmed its full support and commitment to its implementation. NATO allies have maintained a long-standing commitment to non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament as an integral part of their security policy, and have repeatedly reaffirmed that these objectives will continue to play an important role in the achievement of NATO's security objectives.
    That said, Allied efforts toward disarmament cannot be undertaken blindly, without due regard for Euro-Atlantic security. The continued existence of powerful nuclear forces outside of the alliance as well as the unpredictable nature of the future security environment necessitates the maintenance of a limited nuclear deterrent for the time being. The pursuit of nuclear and general disarmament is intimately intertwined with the global security context. As a NATO ally, Canada agrees that the supreme guarantee of the security of allies is provided by the strategic nuclear forces of the alliance. The role of alliance nuclear forces today is fundamentally political--to preserve peace and prevent coercion and any kind of war--and the alliance consistently reaffirms that the circumstances in which their use might have to be contemplated are extremely remote. Together with NATO’s conventional forces, nuclear forces constitute the means with which the alliance deters any threat of aggression against any NATO member state.
    Although NATO continues to retain a credible nuclear deterrent, its stockpile of nuclear weapons in Europe has been reduced by over 90 percent since the height of the Cold War. The US and UK have also made significant cuts in their own national arsenals.
    Canada supports NATO’s continued commitment to nuclear disarmament and its willingness to adjust its nuclear forces in light of the changing security environment to achieve the collective goal of a nuclear weapon free world. Canada will continue to play an active role in discussions related these issues as we negotiate a new strategic concept for the alliance.
Question No. 238--
Mr. Bill Siksay:
     What steps, if any, will the government take at the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to further negotiations on the issues of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament?
Hon. Lawrence Cannon (Minister of Foreign Affairs, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada aims to reaffirm its collective commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, NPT, and to make balanced progress on the three pillars of this important international instrument: disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of energy.
    On May 3, 2010, the Minister of Foreign Affairs made Canada’s opening statement at the start of the NPT review conference. The minister noted that on nuclear disarmament, states party must strive for implementation of commitments already accepted. In this regard, Canada welcomed the new START agreement, the newly released US nuclear posture review, and US efforts towards ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Canada calls upon all states party required for the entry-into-force of the CTBT to ratify this essential treaty as soon as possible.
    Regarding the threat of nuclear proliferation, the minister noted that Canada has a long-standing commitment to strengthened national and international efforts to ensure that weapons of mass destruction do not spread to states or terrorists prepared to use them under any circumstances. In this regard, he argued that an important step forward for the review conference would be to recognize that a comprehensive safeguards agreement together with an additional protocol represents the new verification standard.
Question No. 239--
Hon. Carolyn Bennett:
    With respect to Health Canada’s vitamin D recommendations: (a) does the government plan to update them and, if so, (i) how, (ii) what is the timeline for the update, (iii) what research is Health Canada using in conducting the update; (b) what are the qualifications of the experts who will evaluate and select the research used to support any decision about the adequacy of Health Canada's current vitamin D recommended daily allowances; (c) is there current, accepted evidence to suggest that taking vitamin D in amounts higher than the recommended daily allowance is harmful; (d) what amount of vitamin D, if any, would be harmful to Canadians' health; (e) if there is an amount found to be harmful, what “harm” did the said amount cause; and (f) which studies were used to draw any conclusions found in (e)?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, in reponse to a)i) In late 2008, the Canadian and US governments contracted with the US Institute of Medicine, IOM, to convene a multi-disciplinary panel of Canadian and U.S. experts, the expert committee, to undertake a study to reassess current relevant data and to update as appropriate the dietary reference intakes, DRIs, for vitamin D and calcium, last published in 1997. This will result in the delivery of a detailed report that is peer-reviewed according to the protocols of the Institute of Medicine and the U.S. National Research Council.
    In response to a)ii) The report from IOM is expected to be publicly available in the fall 2010. It is planned that the implementation process for government programs, policies, guidelines and information will take place in 2011.
    In response to a)iii) Health Canada supported the IOM review in a number of ways. Health Canada provided publicly available data on usual distributions of vitamin D intake, based on the 2004 Canadian Community Health Survey. Health Canada also worked jointly with Statistics Canada on a preliminary public release of blood 25-OH vitamin D results from the 2007- 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. These results were essential for the IOM expert committee to take into consideration the Canadian vitamin D status in their deliberations. In addition, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the US Office of Dietary Supplements/National Institutes of Health and the US Food and Drug Administration funded the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to prepare the report “Vitamin D and Calcium: A Systematic Review of Health Outcomes”, which was published in August 2009. The purpose of this review was to systematically summarize the evidence on the relationship between vitamin D, calcium, and a combination of both nutrients on a wide range of health outcomes.
    In response to b) The review of DRIs for vitamin D and calcium is being conducted by a 14-member expert committee appointed through standard procedures of the national academies. Expertise includes, but is not necessarily limited to the following areas: nutrition, infant nutrition, reproductive nutrition, pregnancy and lactation, dermatology, gerontology, epidemiology, biostatistics, bone and skeletal health, cardiovascular health, immunology, oncology, cellular metabolism, toxicology, genetics, factors affecting intensity of UVB radiation, and population monitoring methodology.
    In response to c) An AHRQ report published in August 2007 entitled “Effectiveness and Safety of Vitamin D in Relation to Bone Health” did examine the question of whether intakes of vitamin D above current reference intakes lead to toxicities. A total of 22 trials reported data on toxicity-related outcomes, 21 of which used doses above current reference intakes.
    Overall, there was fair evidence from adult trials that vitamin D supplementation above current reference intakes, with or without calcium supplementation, was well tolerated. However, there were challenges in conducting this part of the review because harms are often secondary outcomes and may not be reported completely, especially if they are not significant. Most of the trials were not designed to evaluate harms, were of small sample size, and had short duration of exposure to vitamin D. There is also a lack of data on toxicity outcomes in infants, children, and specific ethnic groups.
    In response to d) As part of its review of the evidence, the IOM expert committee will try to set a tolerable upper intake level, UL, defined as the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse effects for almost all individuals in the general population. The UL is based on an evaluation conducted by using the methodology for risk assessment of nutrients.
    Until the recommendations for vitamin D have been updated, Health Canada continues to recommend that Canadians follow the existing tolerable upper intake level, which for anyone over one year of age is 50 micrograms, 2000 IU, vitamin D per day from all sources, including milk and supplements.
    In response to e) According to the dietary reference intakes, DRIs, for vitamin D and calcium published in 1997, the adverse effects of excess vitamin D are probably largely mediated by increasing calcium levels in the blood, and limited scientific evidence suggests that direct effects of high concentrations of vitamin D may be expressed in various organ systems, including kidney, bone, central nervous system and cardiovascular system. Human case reports of pharmacologic doses of vitamin D over many years describe severe effects at intake levels of 250 to 1250 micrograms per day, 10,000 to 50,000 IU/day.
    The IOM expert committee is looking at more recent clinical scientific data with regard to amounts of vitamin D that may be considered harmful and the indicators of adverse effects.
     In response to f) The full set of studies used will be made available in fall 2010 in the IOM report.
Question No. 240--
Hon. Carolyn Bennett:
     With respect to the $500 million allotted in the 2009 budget and reallotted in the 2010 budget to Canada Health Infoway: (a) when will the funding be released; (b) how will the funding be targeted; (c) how much of the funding will be focused on acute care facilities; (d) how much of the funding will be focused on physicians and integrated points of service for hospitals, pharmacies, community care facilities and patients; and (e) how much of the funding will be focused on physician electronic medical records?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, Canada Health Infoway, Infoway, is an independent, not-for-profit corporation established in 2001 to accelerate the development of health information and communication technologies such as electronic health records (EHRs), telehealth and public health surveillance systems on a pan-Canadian basis. Its corporate members are the 14 federal, provincial and territorial deputy ministers of health. Infoway supports the development and implementation of eHealth technologies on a cost-shared basis with its provincial/territorial partners.
    As part of the Government of Canada’s economic action plan, EAP, budget 2009 included $500 million for Infoway to support the goal of having 50% of Canadians with an EHR by 2010, to speed up the implementation of electronic medical record, EMR, systems for physicians and integrate points of service for hospitals, pharmacies, community care facilities and patients. Subsequent to the budget 2009 announcement, the federal government indicated that further due diligence would be conducted before the funds would be released. This included the monitoring of Infoway’s response to the Auditor General of Canada’s fall 2009 report, which contained a chapter on EHRs. Budget 2010 announced the government’s intention to move forward with the transfer of these resources.
    With regard to a) In March 2010, Health Canada and Infoway signed a funding agreement related to the $500 million allocated through budgets 2009 and 2010. Under the new funding agreement, Infoway will periodically draw down on the allocation and is thus required to submit an annual cash flow statement, with supporting details, to access the federal funds. The first cash flow statement to draw-down upon the new funds is due by the end of June 2010. Funding will be disbursed to Infoway within forty-five, 45, days of the receipt and acceptance by the minister of the cash flow statement.
    With regard to b) Through budget 2009/2010, the $500 million funding is intended to continue work on EHRs and to support the implementation of electronic medical record, EMR, systems for physicians and integrate points of service for hospitals, pharmacies, community care facilities and patients.
    In this context, Infoway is working to establish corresponding funding strategies. These will be articulated in Infoway’s annual summary corporate plan, which is due to be released at the end of June 2010.
    With regard to c)d) and e) As noted above, Infoway is working to establish funding programs for the $500 million allocated through budgets 2009 and 2010, which will be articulated in Infoway’s annual summary corporate plan, which is due to be released at the end of June 2010.
    Since the provinces and territories are responsible for the delivery of health care, they also set their respective priorities and funding allocations for eHealth. Accordingly, within the parameters set out in the annual summary corporate plan, Infoway will work with individual provinces/territories to disburse funds based on jurisdictional priorities.
Question No. 248--
Mr. Sukh Dhaliwal:
     With regard to Health Canada’s research on the stress response to aircraft noise: (a) what studies have been conducted; (b) what are their results and conclusions; and (c) what future research is planned?
Hon. Leona Aglukkaq (Minister of Health, CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to a) From 1993 to 1996, Health Canada published three conference papers on the development of a laboratory study of aircraft noise-induced stress on people.
     The only Health Canada published studies with a specific focus on aircraft noise were two reviews of the scientific literature on aircraft noise. One is a peer reviewed journal article in 2007 on aircraft noise-induced sleep disturbance and the other is a 2001 report on aircraft noise, stress and cardiovascular disease.
    Aircraft noise has appeared in other studies by Health Canada, such as a very preliminary field study designed to examine possible relationships between noise annoyance and stress. This was presented in a poster at a 2007 University of Ottawa 4th year honours thesis symposium.
    Aircraft noise was also noted in a national survey of noise annoyance published in a 2002 HealthInsider report, Number 7, and a peer reviewed literature article in 2005.
    Aircraft noise annoyance was also used as an example in a 2008 published analysis of how noise annoyance can be used as a health impact in environmental assessments.
    A study of annoyance and disturbance of daily activities from road traffic noise was also published in 2008 based on a 2005 HealthInsider report (Number 14)
    Health Canada has also published a total of three laboratory studies on the potential for noise-induced stress in either rats, two studies, one published in 2003 and the other in 2005, or people, one published in 2006, using noise sources other than aircraft noise.
    In response to b) Results are listed below from the various published studies that are relevant to the potential for a stress response to aircraft noise.
    In the review of aircraft noise and sleep disturbance, it was found that people living around airports show disturbed sleep in the form of awakenings and increased body movement. Aircraft noise is one reason, but it is responsible for less sleep disturbance than spontaneous awakenings and other indoor noise events.
    The review of the scientific literature on aircraft noise and cardiovascular disease indicated that average blood pressure levels of schoolchildren exposed to aircraft noise were slightly elevated, however there was no conclusive proof that aircraft noise caused chronic stress in children. Also, in adults, although scientific studies have shown that short term exposure to intense noise can cause temporary stress responses such as increases in heart rate and blood pressure, there is no consistent evidence that chronic noise leads to hypertension. Furthermore, it was found that, although there was insufficient evidence to conclude that aircraft noise causes heart disease, some studies suggested that people who live for many years in areas with intense road traffic noise, may face a slight increase in the risk of developing heart disease.
     In the review of the scientific literature on noise annoyance, it was found that there was some evidence to suggest an association between road traffic and neighbourhood noise levels and some stress related adverse effects e.g., hypertension and migraines. It was also found that on average a given long term exposure to aircraft noise makes a greater percentage of a population highly annoyed than would road traffic noise. Furthermore, in a national survey of road traffic noise annoyance in Canada, it was found that people who were highly annoyed by road traffic noise, also thought this annoyance had a negative impact on their health.
    In a laboratory study, exposure of people to noise events during sleep did not appear to create a stress response. It was also inconclusive as to whether there were adverse effects on their sleep.
    In the very preliminary field study where exposure to aircraft noise occurred, the number of subjects was too small to obtain reliable conclusions about any possible relationships between stress hormone responses and annoyance level.
    In response to c) Health Canada plans the following research studies to help assess plausibility of a cause-effect relationship between noise, including that from aircraft, and stress related adverse health effects: i) examination of potential correlations between annoyance to road traffic noise and actual health effects reported in surveys, ii) a study of stress markers in noise exposed rats that are predisposed to hypertension.
     The following future reviews are also planned: (i) for fiscal year 2010-2011, an interim review taking into account recent developments in the scientific literature on the potential for aircraft noise-induced stress-related adverse health effects - to update the Health Canada It’s Your Health document on aircraft noise, (ii) for fiscal year 2011-2012, a comprehensive review paper on the scientific literature on potential links between stress, cardiovascular disease and environmental noise.
Question No. 251--
Ms. Judy Foote:
     With respect to the New Veterans Charter, does Veterans Affairs Canada experience a cost-savings associated with the granting of the lump-sum Disability Award and Death Benefit, as compared to other longer-term assistance measures such as, but not limited to, the disability pension and health care benefits?
Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, programs under the new veterans charter were implemented with the objective of changing the focus of Veterans Affairs Canada programming from disability to wellness for Canadian Forces clients and their families. The new design provides an up-front, lump sum payment to recognize the non-economic impacts of service-related disability, as well as ongoing support through rehabilitation and financial benefits to those who need it. This means that those with the greatest need receive the greatest support from Veterans Affairs Canada to aid in their successful transition to civilian life, where possible. Savings are possible in the longer term if the wellness programs of the new veterans charter work as planned to support modern-day Veterans through the transition to civilian life, thereby reducing dependence on pension payments to provide adequate, ongoing income support, a purpose that disability pensions were never intended to have. The object of the new veterans charter is not reducing cost but rather getting better value for money.
    To cover additional front-end costs, government injected $740 million into Veterans Affairs reference levels to cover the first five years of the implementation of the new veterans charter programs. Over time, as the effectiveness of the rehabilitation programming is realized, financial savings are possible, but savings are not a goal of the new veterans charter. This new programming strikes a balance between being financially responsible and accountable to Canadian taxpayers while still providing required benefits and services to meet the needs of our clients. At the time of its development in 2005 and implementation in 2006, the new veterans charter was projected to breakeven by 2025. However, it should be noted that the projection is impacted by the nature of military operations between the date of the forecast and 2025.
Question No. 252--
Ms. Judy Foote:
     With respect to the new Veterans Charter and the tax-free, lump-sum Disability Award and Death Benefit for fiscal years 2005-2006 to 2008-2009: (a) how many Disability Award or Death Benefit files have been forwarded to the Deputy Minister or Minister of Veterans Affairs' because of problems associated with the lump-sum payment; (b) how many recipients of the lump-sum Disability Award or the Death Benefit filed a complaint with the department about the lump-sum payment; (c) after receiving a lump-sum payment, how many recipients or their dependants have requested additional funds; and (d) has Veterans Affairs Canada reviewed or evaluated the lump-sum Disability Award and Death Benefit programs and, if so, what findings or conclusions have been made?
Hon. Jean-Pierre Blackburn (Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of State (Agriculture), CPC):
    Mr. Speaker, in response to a) Veterans Affairs Canada does not have a process to capture this specific information.
     In response to b) Since the start of the new veterans charter program, from April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2009, there have been 1, 234 medical departmental reviews requested specifically for disability awards. This represents approximately 5% of the total number of applications received.
    Of those 1, 234 medical department reviews, 758 have been deemed favourable after applicants provided new evidence. 406 have been deemed unfavourable. There are 70 cases where no decision could be made as it was determined that the department did not have jurisdiction at the time to proceed with the review, for example the Veterans Review and Appeal Board had jurisdiction.
     In response to c) Since the start of the new veterans charter program, April 1, 2006 to March 31, 2009, there have been 6,082 reassessments requested specifically for disability awards.
    In response to d) The new veterans charter was implemented on April 1, 2006. Monitoring is underway and adjustments to new veterans charter programs will be considered accordingly. In addition, Veterans Affairs Canada’s audit and evaluation division is currently conducting a comprehensive evaluation of the new veterans charter. This evaluation is divided into three phases with a report developed for each phase.
    Phase I--focus on the relevance and rationale of the new veterans charter and its programs; Phase II--focus on outreach and the service delivery framework; Phase III--focus on unintended impacts and the success in achieving desired outcome.
    The reporting is scheduled to be completed by December 2010.
    The department also evaluates feedback on the new veterans charter programs, including the disability award and death genefit, as it is received. For example: 1) The department continues to consult with veterans' organizations to hear their concerns. 2) The special needs advisory group, which has been in place since the beginning of the new veterans charter, has submitted four reports, providing observations and recommendations for Veterans Affairs Canada’s consideration with regard to improving the new veterans charter from a special-needs veterans’ perspective. 3) The new veterans charter advisory group has also undertaken a study of new veterans charter programs. Their findings and recommendations were detailed in a report, which was submitted to the department in October. The department will continue to explore and analyse the findings of evaluations/reviews of the new veterans charter, as well as feedback received internally and from clients, to maximize existing authority to the benefit of our clients and to consider if, and where, there might be gaps in that authority.


Questions Passed as Orders for Returns

    Mr. Speaker, furthermore, if Questions Nos. 231, 232, 234, 236, 247, 249 and 250 could be made orders for return, these returns would be tabled immediately.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.


Question No. 231--
Mr. Paul Dewar:
     With respect to training offered to members of the Department of National Defence and Canadian Forces: (a) what mission-related training is offered on gender; (b) what mission-related training is offered on sexual and gender-based violence; (c) what mission-related training is offered on United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1325, 1820, 1888 and 1889; (d) what mission-related training is offered on the integration of local female civilian, military and police personnel in operations; (e) what mission-related training is offered on strategies to promote the meaningful participation of local women and their national organizations in civil-military relations; and (f) for the types of training mentioned in subquestions (a) to (e), (i) who administers the training, (ii) who has access to the training, (iii) for each course, how many hours of instruction are provided, (iv) which courses are mandatory and which are optional?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 232--
Mr. Paul Dewar:
     With regard to Canada's transfer of detainees to Afghan authorities, what are the names and positions of individuals who received the originals or copies of the following documents: KANDH-0029; KANDH-0032; IDR-0512; correspondence between Richard Colvin and CEFCOM-J9 and CEFCOM-J3 from August 21 to September 19, 2006; KBGR-0118; KBGR-0121; KBGR-0160; KBGR-0258; "Detainee Diplomatic Contingency Plan", approved by Margaret Bloodworth, National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister, April 2007; KBGR-9261; KBGR-0263; KBGR-0265; KBGR-0267; KBGR-0269; KBGR-0271; May 3, 2007 unnumbered detainee report; May 4, 2007 additional unnumbered detainee report; KBGR-0274; KBGR-0275; KBGR-0291; KBGR-0292; June 21, 2007, KBGR on detainees; KBGR-0302; and KBGR-0321?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 234--
Ms. Kirsty Duncan:
     With respect to nutrition in Canada: (a) does the government recognize good nutrition as a basic human right; (b) how is food insecurity defined by the government, and what factors are responsible for it in Canada; (c) what action, if any, has the government taken to address each of the factors as identified in the answer to (b); (d) what action, if any, has the government taken to promote nutrition in Canada and which specific populations have been targeted; (f) does Canada have a comprehensive initiative that aims to reduce undernutrition and hunger at the national scale and, if so, (i) what is it, and if not, (ii) why not; (g) what successes has the current government had in building on effective programs to reduce food insecurity, undernutrition and hunger, and what barriers has it had to overcome; (h) has the government facilitated communications between the provinces and territories concerning the best methods of improving infant, child and adolescent nutrition in Canada and, if so, (i) on what dates and what were the recommendations and, if not, (ii) why not; (i) what are the names of all food security, nutrition, hunger prevention, etc. stakeholders with whom the government meets; (j) what percentage of Canadian families seeks assistance from food banks, and how has this changed over the last 20 years; (k) what percentage of Canadian infants, children and adolescents require assistance from food banks to meet their nutritional needs, and are all their needs met; (l) what action, if any, has the government taken to address in particular the nutrition of pregnant women and children through two years of age; (m) what percentage of Canadian children and adolescents experience food insecurity or hunger, and how does this translate into numbers, how have these data changed over the last 20 years, and for what reasons; (n) has the government considered a national breakfast, lunch or snack program to help ensure that children and adolescents meet their nutritional needs; (o) how does the government define the categories overweight and obese, and what percentage of Canadian infants, children, and adolescents are overweight and obese; (p) how does socio-economic level impact overweight and obesity in Canadian infants, children, and adolescents; (q) what are the medical and psychological complications of child and adolescent overweight and obesity; (r) how has childhood overweight and obesity increased in Canada over the last 20 years, and what action, if any, has the current government taken to address the situation; (s) how has type 2 diabetes increased in Canadian children and adolescents over the last 20 years; (t) how many treatment centres for childhood and adolescent obesity exist in Canada, and has the government increased or decreased funding to these, and by what percentage; (u) what action, if any, has the government taken to expand the number of child obesity treatment centres; (v) what action, if any has the government taken to facilitate communications between the provinces and territories concerning successful overweight and obesity prevention and treatment programs, and replication of what is working well; (w) what action, if any, has the government taken to support research and evaluation of childhood overweight and obesity prevention, including behavioural, dietary, environmental, pharmacological, and physical activity approaches, and treatment initiatives; (x) what analysis, if any, has the government undertaken of nutrition programs in other jurisdictions, such as the United Kingdom and the United States; and (y) what consideration, if any, has been given to the Pennsylvania program that has led to more than 80 supermarkets being set up in unserved areas in the last five years?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 236--
Mr. Bill Siksay:
     With regard to nuclear disarmament: (a) what official statements has the government made with reference to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s five point plan for nuclear disarmament; (b) what actions, if any, has the government taken to support this plan; and (c) what actions, if any, will the government take to start the preparatory work necessary for the negotiation of a nuclear weapons convention?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 247--
Hon. John McKay:
     With regard to the government’s $220 million contribution to the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund: (a) how much of this money has been committed or spent to date; (b) how much of this money has been committed or sent to Canadian NGOs; (c) will the contributions of $40.92 million to the Canadian Red Cross Society and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, $2 million to Oxfam Quebec, $4.1 million to Save the Children, and $6.8 million to World Vision that the government has announced thus far be coming from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund; (d) how much of this money has been committed or sent through bilateral or multilateral aid channels, for example, will the $8 million contribution to the World Bank to help cancel Haiti's debt come from the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund; (e) how much of the remaining money in the Fund will be made available to Canadian NGOs; (f) how do NGOs access this money; (g) what priorities guide CIDA's use of these funds; (h) how were these priorities established; and (i) did Canadian NGOs have any input in the process of determining these priorities?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 249--
Mr. Claude Gravelle:
     With regard to the Community Futures Program: (a) is Industry Canada still responsible for administering this program and, if so, which section or agency of Industry Canada is responsible for the administration of the program and its support of Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) in Northern Ontario; (b) currently, how many northern CFDCs are there in existence, and how much funding do they each receive; (c) are there any plans for additional northern CFCDs or reductions in the number of northern CFDCs and, if so, how many and where; (d) how many staff at Industry Canada have responsibilities related to the Community Futures Program overall; (e) to what departmental section, division, or agency are they assigned; (f) what is the organizational relationship between the Southern Ontario Development Agency and the Community Futures Program; (g) does the Southern Ontario Development Agency have any responsibilities as concerns northern CFDCs; (h) are there any plans to transfer responsibilities for northern CFDCs from FedNor to the Southern Ontario Development Agency; (i) are there any plans to transfer staff at FedNor, who are currently responsible for the Community Futures Program in Northern Ontario, to the Southern Ontario Development Agency; and (j) will the Community Futures Program be subject to the five per cent budgetary cut announced for Industry Canada and, (i) if so, on what basis would these cuts be made, (ii) if not, will the five per cent cut to Industry Canada's budget have any impact on the Community Futures Program and, if so, what kind of an impact?
    (Return tabled)
Question No. 250--
Mr. Claude Gravelle:
     With regard to FedNor: (a) what is the total staff complement for FedNor for each of its programs and in what locations, for the fiscal years 2006-2007 to 2009-2010 and currently; and (b) what are the staffing projections for FedNor for each of its programs, and in what locations, for 2010-2011?
    (Return tabled)


    Mr. Speaker, I ask that the remaining questions be allowed to stand.
    Is that agreed?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

Government Orders

[Business of Supply]


Business of Supply

Opposition Motion—Prorogation  

    That a special committee of the House be hereby established to undertake an immediate study of all relevant issues pertaining to prorogation, including the circumstances in which a request that Parliament be prorogued would be appropriate or inappropriate, and the nature of any rule changes (either by way of the Standing Orders or legislation or both) that may be necessary to avoid any future misuse of prorogation;
that, as part of this study, the committee take into account the specific proposals for new rules pertaining to prorogation offered by the Leader of the Opposition, including: (a) a requirement that the Prime Minister give Parliament written notice in advance of any request to prorogue, together with his/her reasons therefore; (b) a requirement that there be a debate in the House of Commons after any such notice is given, but before any request for prorogation is made; (c) a requirement that the express consent of the House of Commons be obtained at the conclusion of any such debate if (i) fewer than 12 months have passed since the last Speech from the Throne, (ii) the requested prorogation is for a period of more than 30 days, or (iii) an issue of confidence is outstanding before the House; and (d) a provision that allows committees of Parliament to continue to function during any prorogation; and
that the special committee report to the House no later than June 23, 2010.
    Since today is the final allotted day for the supply period ending June 23, 2010, the House will go through the usual procedures to consider and dispose of the supply bills.
     In view of recent practices, do hon. members agree that the bills be distributed now?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.


    Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to present this motion about ways to prevent the potential misuse of prorogation in our parliamentary system.
    As I do so, let me note that I will be sharing my time this morning with the deputy opposition House leader, the hon. member for Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Lachine. Among other things, she will be addressing some technical issues that have arisen since this motion first appeared on the order paper in April. We want to ensure that the motion is fully up to date.
    Since notice circulated yesterday that this motion on prorogation was the topic we intended to offer for debate today, a couple of members from across the way have asked me privately why this particular choice was made, given that the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has a prorogation study under way. That is a fair question, and I am happy to answer it.
    The official opposition is, of course, fully aware of the work being done in the procedure committee, because we were the ones who initiated that work by that committee. However, there are at least four reasons why this motion today should proceed in any event.
    First, the procedure committee is a very busy committee of this House. It is doing good work, but time is rapidly slipping by. The House is about to adjourn for the summer. As the Speaker just mentioned, we are on the final supply day. The last time the House adjourned for any significant amount of time, the Prime Minister, of course, took the further step of proroguing the House and Parliament altogether. Therefore, that threat of prorogation still hangs over Parliament.
    In my view, and in our view on this side of the House, we need to put more effort into finding practical solutions to the prorogation issue. We need to put more horsepower behind this particular issue at this time.
    Second, this motion is more comprehensive than the one before the procedure committee. It includes specific ideas for solutions to illegitimate requests for prorogation. The ideas include, for example, the requirement that the Prime Minister give notice that he intends to make a request for prorogation, and in addition, that he supply reasons as to why that request is reasonable.
    There is also the suggestion that there ought to be a debate in this House after the notice is given but before the prorogation request is actually made.
    Third, there is the suggestion in our motion that in certain circumstances, not only should there be a debate, but the formal consent of the House of Commons should be required, where appropriate.
    Finally, we make the suggestion that, prorogation notwithstanding, the committees of the House of Commons, and indeed of the Senate, should continue to have the ability to function during a prorogation so that the wheels of democracy are not completely foreclosed.
    For those reasons and because of the fact that our motion provides some specific suggestions to address the problem, we believe, again, that it is a timely and important motion to put forward.
    With respect to the study under way in the procedure committee, it is, unfortunately, a rather invisible process. That is not a criticism of that committee. However, the issue is one that deserves greater public visibility.
    This being the last opposition day in this sitting before the summer, it is timely to give the prorogation travesty some public profile once again.
    This sitting began with a shameful padlock on Canadian democracy from December to March. The central institutions of parliamentary accountability were shut down, wrongfully, in our view. We all need to be reminded of that outrage and reminded of the spontaneous outrage of hundreds of thousands of ordinary Canadians who knew instinctively that what was going on with prorogation at that time was wrong.
    Nearly a quarter of a million Canadians signed petitions on this subject. Thousands more turned out to public rallies. A hundred and thirty experts on parliamentary affairs and constitutional law wrote to the Prime Minister to point out the defects in what he was doing. Editorial opinion across the country was strongly averse to what the government and what the Prime Minister were doing with prorogation. They said, with a single loud voice, that it is wrong, and we want our democracy back. It is important to keep the public profile of this issue.


    We need to make the point that prorogation is sadly a metaphor for something that is even worse. It is one way, but not the only way, this rather paranoid Conservative government tries regularly and relentlessly to avoid accountability, to subvert transparency, to muzzle criticism, to stifle dissent, and to silence voices that have the temerity to disagree with the government and to speak truth to power.
    It all began with prorogation, and Parliament cannot allow that anti-democratic behaviour to be considered normal.
    Back in 2005, the person who is now the Prime Minister of Canada said this:
    When a government starts trying to cancel dissent or avoid when it's rapidly losing its moral authority to govern.
    Dissent is not tolerated by the Prime Minister, not in his cabinet, not in his caucus, and not even in Parliament, which he has padlocked twice in the past year and a half when the House of Commons kept asking tough questions about what the House considered to be Conservative wrongdoing.
    Even more seriously, the Prime Minister resorts to character assassination and intimidation as an all too frequent partisan tactic. Think for example of Linda Keen, the former president of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. Think of Paul Kennedy, the former head of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. Think of Peter Tinsley, the former head of the Military Police Complaints Commission. Think of Kevin Page, the Parliamentary Budget Officer. Think of the independent officers of Parliament who are intended to supervise such fundamental things as free and fair elections, access to information, and ethics. They have all been vilified by the government when they looked into evidence of Conservative misconduct.
    Perhaps the greatest abuse was aimed at long-time public servant and diplomat Richard Colvin, who dared to speak truth to power about the risk of torture in Afghanistan. His reputation was viciously maligned to belittle him personally, but equally, to intimidate other public servants and keep them from reporting wrongdoing.
    Beyond the political precinct, think of church organizations, such as Kairos. Think of foreign aid groups, such as the Canadian Council for International Co-operation. Think of a vast array of women's organizations. Think of the Canadian Council on Learning. They have all had their funding slashed and have been intimidated by the government for dissenting from Conservative dogma.
    All of these concerns have recently been verified and amplified by many of Canada's top journalists. Let me quote from the Canadian Press news service on June 11, just a few days ago, when it said this:
    Journalism associations from across the country have issued a stern rebuke against the [present] government and called on reporters to fight back against its tight information control....“Under [this] Prime Minister...the flow of information out of Ottawa has slowed to a trickle. Genuine transparency is replaced by slick propaganda and spin designed to manipulate public opinion.
     Now we have the ultimate absurdity of the Prime Minister purporting to dictate to Parliament who can be called as witnesses to testify before parliamentary committees and who cannot. Contrary to the powers of Parliament, and contrary to law, the Prime Minister is trying to shield political staff members who work for him and his cabinet from being called to testify. He says that they are too junior, and it is too tough on them to appear before these committees.
    These people are not little kids. They earn six-figure salaries, up to $150,000 or more. They handle the government's most sensitive files. They manage things such as the lobbying activities of people like Rahim Jaffer. They interfere directly and personally in the release of information being processed under Canada's access to information law, and they make profound government policy announcements, such as, for example, the news that the government was going to prorogue Parliament last December and padlock Canadian democracy until March. Interestingly enough, that announcement was not made by the Prime Minister. It was made by his press secretary.
    These examples simply show the absurdity of the government's position. It brings us full circle to the prorogation issue itself, and it illustrates again why this motion is up for debate today and why the House of Commons should adopt it.


    Mr. Speaker, I think the question on Canadians' minds would be this: Of all the possible issues the Liberals could possibly bring forward for us to discuss today, issues about the economy or crime, for example, why on earth would they bring this issue forward when they know full well that the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs has been studying this motion for three months?
    Is the hon. member aware that three of his members—their whip, the Liberal deputy whip, and the Liberal deputy House leader—are all currently sitting on a committee that is studying this very issue? How does he answer to Canadians that of all the issues we could be speaking about today, we are talking about an issue like this rather than about an issue like the economy, like crime, or like the upcoming summits?
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to answer that question.
    Nothing is more fundamental to every one of the issues that he mentioned than a properly functioning democracy. If the principles by which this place and all of the committees operate are undermined by the capricious ability of the cabinet, the government and the Prime Minister to simply shut the place down, stifle debate, close it off, put a padlock on democracy, then all of the issues that the hon. gentleman mentioned would not be discussed anywhere in this country if prorogation gets out of hand, as it has under the Conservative government.
    Prorogation was not an issue in this country between 1873 and 2008. From John A. Macdonald to the current Prime Minister, no prime minister has abused the privileges and the prerogatives of prorogation. However, in 2008 and 2009 it was abused and it shut down the ability of Parliament to discuss those issues or any other issues.
    Nothing is more fundamental than having a properly functioning democracy. That is why 250,000 Canadians signed those petitions just three or four months ago to say that what the government was doing was wrong and that they wanted their democracy back so we could debate freely, fairly and without intimidation those issues that the parliamentary secretary mentioned and every other one that is important to Canadians.
    Mr. Speaker, when this was brought to my attention yesterday I was bemused.
    I understand prorogation is a hot issue with the Liberals, as it is with us, but this motion calls for a special committee. If I am right, this motion has been kicking around for a number of months and it would seem that at the last minute, after the official opposition fought to get more opposition days, it just reached on a shelf and picked one item to fill in the time with it.
    The motion calls for a special committee but we already have a committee that has been holding meetings for months. I did not hear all of the member's remarks, but the motion calls for a report that would be due in six days.
    I would like to know why this motion is even in front of us since it does not seem to make an awful lot of sense.
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. gentleman would make an awful lot more sense if he bothered to pay attention to the discussion. He said that he missed the first part of the debate, so it is understandable why he does not get the point. That was all dealt with in the few minutes while he was outside the House, I gather, from what he just said.
    The procedure committee is a very busy committee. It has been dealing with this issue for some considerable length of time but it has not yet produced a product. It has not produced an output. The House is about to adjourn for the summer. Does the member remember the last time the House adjourned for any significant period of time? The government prorogued it altogether. What happens if we get to the adjournment of the House in three or four days or maybe later this afternoon and the Prime Minister wakes up on Monday morning and decides to prorogue again?
    It is time for action to be taken on this file and it is time to move it forward. It is all very well and good for the member to say that another committee is looking at the subject but we need to get some horsepower behind this issue to find a solution, not just more talk.



    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague, the House leader of the official opposition, has very clearly and succinctly explained the reason for this motion on this Liberal opposition day.


    I have listened to the questions that have been asked by a member from the government side and a member from the NDP. It is clear that they are looking at it from a very narrow point, because our motion and the statement that has been made by the House leader for the Liberal opposition and the amendment that I will be moving will make clear that this issue of prorogation goes beyond simple prorogation.
    The Prime Minister's latest tactics to cover up his government's role in the Afghan detainee scandal was to stop the business of Parliament dead. Everybody knows that. Thousands upon thousands of Canadians rose up in protest to that.
    While the Prime Minister attempted to claim that the prorogation of Parliament was routine, I believe that my colleague, the House leader for the Liberal opposition, made quite clear that from 1867 to 2008 no previous prime minister had ever abused prorogation or had ever used it to try to hide from the will, decision and authority of Parliament. Not until the current Conservative Prime Minister did we see abuse of prorogation.
    Our motion is not outdated. Our motion goes beyond the scope of what the procedure and House affairs committee is dealing with. In fact, the study that is being conducted as we speak in that committee is a motion that I brought to that committee. So, I know very well what is happening.
    The current Prime Minister now holds the record for shutting down Parliament for 148 days over just four years in office. That is compared to the second place prime minister, Jean Chrétien, who prorogued 145 days over 10 years, a full decade.
    My colleague also talked about how it goes beyond simply flouting the authority of Parliament, the supremacy of Parliament. Let us talk about the statement that the government has tabled that it will no longer permit its political staffers to appear before standing committees of this House who have been duly called before those committees.
    Let us talk about how the government is stifling and smothering any kind of dissent. Let us talk about how, in a democracy, freedom of expression is one of the very principle tenets of a democracy, of democratic institution. Let us talk about how freedom of expression means that dissent is healthy, and how the Conservative government and the Conservative Prime Minister refuse to see dissent and healthy, objective, fair criticism as being an integral part of a democratic system, an integral part of all of our democratic institutions.
    Let us talk about how we have what the government considers to be fringe groups, not-for-profit organizations and non-governmental organizations, that do excellent work, provide services to Canadians here in Canada and services to people in impoverished countries outside of Canada, but because they have criticized some of the government policies they have been smothered. Their funding has been cut.


     Women's groups are considered to be fringe groups. A member of the Conservatives' own caucus, the senator from the other house, Nancy Ruth, told the truth to a gathering of women's groups when she said, “I have to tell you, shut the f-- up because, if you don't, I'm afraid that my own government, my own Prime Minister will come down on you even harder”.
    The issue of prorogation goes well beyond just the supremacy of this Parliament. It goes to the issue of freedom of expression, supremacy of Parliament and the need for dissent in a democracy.
    I move:
    That the motion should be amended:
a) by adding after the words “during any prorogation” in section (d) the following:
“that the special committee also take into account any report on prorogation that may be forthcoming from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and provide an analysis of the consequences of the use of prorogation as a device to avoid accountability or to silence voices that may wish to express disagreement with the government;
that the committee consist of 11 members which shall include 5 members from the government party, 3 members from the official opposition, 2 members from the Bloc Québécois and 1 member from the New Democratic Party, provided that the chair shall be from the official opposition;
that the committee have all of the powers of a standing committee as provided in the standing orders;
that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the whip of each party depositing with the Clerk of the House a list of his or her party's members of the committee no later than June 23, 2010;
that membership substitutions be permitted to be made from time to time, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2); and
b) by deleting the words “June 23, 2010” and substituting the following:
“November 2, 2010”.
    In order for an hon. member to move an amendment, the consent of the person who brought forward the motion in the first place is required. Is it accepted.
    Yes, Mr. Speaker.
    The amendment is in order.
    Questions and comments. The hon. member for Hamilton Centre.


    Mr. Speaker, I am curious. The amendment now before us is that we change the date in the motion that was tabled, which was that a special committee report would be due in six days, to now make it November. This just gets curiouser and curiouser, so I am further curious.
    We now have a committee, and the hon. member has been present for most of the meetings that I and other members have been at. I am curious about what the member would do with all the committee work that has been done so far. Do we just throw that all overboard and start over? Just exactly what, from a practical point of view, does the official opposition want us to do with the amendment in front of us calling for a special committee when we already have a committee doing working exactly that issue?
    Mr. Speaker, clearly the member did not have an opportunity to hear the actual motion that was delivered by my colleague, the Leader of the Opposition, nor my amendment.
    Both the principal motion and my amendment make it clear that the committee would take into account any report that may be tabled by the procedure and House affairs committee to the House in its own work, the work of the special legislative committee that we hope the House will support.
    My colleague, who I sit with on procedure and House affairs, is being histrionic. Part of the work of that committee is done only on the aspect of prorogation. It does not deal with all the other aspects of the Liberal motion being debated today.
    Mr. Speaker, the member made reference to a number of ways, other than prorogation, in which the government had disrespected the House, parliamentary committees and Canadians.
    I am the chair of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. We have been looking at a number of women's organizations that have been denied funding. When we look at them, they all have one thing in common. Many of these organizations have been working for 15 to 25 years and producing excellent results under that department. They have been denied funding because they dared to speak out against some of the attitudes toward women that have come out of the government and some of the changes in the Status of Women department.
    Everyone know these things. What can one do to ensure the government begins to respect Parliament once again?
    Mr. Speaker, prorogation is part of a much larger trend of the Conservative government trying to silence the opposition. The government has a record and a history of attacking what it calls fringe groups. Clearly, for the government, women's organizations are part of these fringe groups.
    One only has to look at the fact that the very first act of the Conservative government in 2006 was to cut the funding to the court challenges program, a program that was specifically designed to provide financial assistance for important court cases that advanced equality rights and language rights guaranteed under the Canadian Constitution. Then, on April 1, 2006, it closed down 12 of the 16 Status of Women Canada offices. Today, only four regional offices exist.
    Meanwhile, while all of this is happening, Canadian women only earn 71¢ on the dollar earned by males. Yet the government says that it does not need to help women's groups. Funding has been cut to women's groups and those groups and their voices are being smothered by the government. That is the first terrible step in eroding democracy.


    Mr. Speaker, there are very few occasions that I actually agree with anything members from the New Democratic Party say in this place. However, in this case, I have to agree and totally concur with a comment made offline just a few moments ago by my colleague from Hamilton Centre, when he spoke from his seat and said that the motion brought forward today from the opposition was a joke, and it is a joke.
    The motion stated quite clearly, when it was put on the order paper, that a special committee of Parliament be struck to examine prorogation and report back to the House in four sitting days. Who could take a look at that and not laugh out loud? It is absolutely ridiculous?
    I know the official opposition House leader and the opposition deputy House leader have tried to put their best spin on things by saying that this will be different, that this will be a better version of what is already occurring in procedure and House affairs. However, it is just an attempt by the official opposition members to make good on something that is a complete embarrassment to them. They are trying to justify this opposition day motion, which is absolutely ridiculous. I have never seen anything like it in my six years in Parliament.
    Opposition days are supposed to be taken up with matters of major concern to not only the opposition party, but to Parliament. As has been heard on several occasions today, there already is a study on prorogation under way. It has been ongoing for the last two and a half to three months, being studied by the procedure and House affairs committee. We have heard excellent testimony in those committee hearings from a wide variety of constitutional experts and experts on parliamentary procedure and conventions. That committee is going to be producing a report, I would suggest, sometime this fall, and I believe it will be a well reasoned, well founded and well intentioned report on prorogation.
    What do we have here today? We have an opposition day motion that was put on the order paper about two months ago. Then the opposition did not even read its contents before it put it forward for debate today. When the Liberals finally realized how ridiculous this was, I am sure they had a couple of moments of utter panic about how to put the best spin possible on it.
    The opposition House leader, whose name was on the original motion, tried to convince members of the House that the motion is a good one because it goes far beyond the study of prorogation being currently conducted by procedure and House affairs. Then the deputy House leader of the opposition moved an amendment that said the June 23 deadline for the committee report should now be extended until November.
    Notwithstanding the fact that this amendment would result in $10,000 for the Liberal chair of a new special committee, because the Liberals are suggesting that an official opposition member chair the special committee and there is a monetary compensation for that chair, one could argue they are looking at setting up a special committee to pad one of their friends' bank accounts in the Liberal ranks. However, I think it goes far beyond that. I think it is far more basic than that.
    What has happened today and what we are seeing first-hand is the opposition party screwed up and it screwed up royally. The Liberals did not know what was contained in their own opposition day motion until it was placed on the order paper and then they were stuck with it. When they finally realized that this made them look like a bunch of fools, they had to come in here today and try to convince people that it was part of their master plan. They really wanted to discuss prorogation, but in a different light, with a different committee, and extend the deadline from June 23 to November.
    This was absolutely embarrassing and it was an insult to members of this place and to the members of the procedure and House affairs committee. For two and a half to three months, those members have been doing exemplary work, conducting a study of prorogation. I had to stifle a laugh when the deputy House leader said that they were going to expand the terms of reference.


     Everyone in this place knows that committees are the masters of their own fate. They can expand the terms of reference if they wish. There is no need for a special committee to discuss and study prorogation when the current committee studying prorogation could expand its terms of reference if it wanted. If, at the end of its initial foray into the examination of prorogation, it decided it wanted to go a bit further and take a look at a couple of other areas which were affected by prorogation, the committee has the full right to do so. There was no time limit given to the committee on when it had to conclude its study on prorogation. There were no constraints put on the committee as to what it was restricted to study.
    All we have heard today from members of the official opposition is just a smokescreen to try to convince Canadians that they are not as incompetent as it obviously appears to everyone in this place, but they have done a very poor job of that.
    In effect, what the Liberals are saying is that they made a mistake and what they meant by their opposition day motion was this. However, this is not the first time we have seen mistakes like this from the ranks of the official opposition. Time and time again in this session we have seen them trying to explain away embarrassing moments within their own party, particularly within their own leader's office.
    I have heard the leader of the official opposition say that what he meant when he said that the Canadian flag looked like a cheap imitation of a beer label was really meant something else. I have heard the official opposition leader say that when he said the Liberals would have to raise taxes, what he really meant was this and he went on to try to make up for his gaffs and misspeaks and his obviously incapable leadership aspirations.
    What we have seen is a pattern, particularly from the leader's office of the official opposition, but more important, a pattern from the entire Liberal Party of Canada of saying one thing and then having to explain what was said because it proved to be embarrassing. I can only suppose that if this conduct continues, we could quite conceivably see in any kind of election campaign, the Liberals putting things in their platform and afterwards saying that they kind of made a mistake there. They know they said this, but they meant to say something else.
    God forbid the Liberals ever win an election. I can just imagine what their conversation with Canadians would be. They would say that they knew in their election campaign platform they said they would reduce taxes, but what they meant was they would increase the GST by two points and slap a carbon tax on everything. What they said in their election campaign platform was that they were tough on crime, but what they meant was not so much.
    This is an embarrassment. Worse than that, it is an insult to members of this place. This motion, on the last opposition day of the session, is one that is not only redundant, but it is embarrassing to the sponsoring party and it is an insult to the members of the procedure and House affairs committee.
     I sit on that committee and the discussion has been, quite frankly for the most part, very respectful. We have had some excellent testimony. We have had some eminent scholars and constitutional experts like Ned Franks, Benoît Pelletier, Peter Russell and others come and speak to us. I found much of the conversation fascinating.
     I obviously have a difference of opinion from many of the other members of the opposition, but during all the discussion we have had, it has been respectful, detailed and, I believe we have collectively asked questions that were probing, timely and necessary. The information we are getting back is such that I would believe the substance of the report, when we finally deliver that report to Parliament, would be something for all committee members to be proud.


    Yet, what do we have here? We have an opposition day motion that basically says that the Liberals do not care about the work we have done for the last two and a half or three months. The reason they give is because they do not think we have done anything that is basically relevant. They do not believe that the work that we have done or the report that we will be submitting to Parliament is worth the paper it is going to be printed on.
    The official opposition thinks that we need a special committee to study prorogation to the level of what has already been studied. I cannot for the life of me think what other witnesses this special committee could call that the procedure and House affairs committee has not already called. I cannot for the life of me think of what other areas that this special committee could delve into that the procedure and House affairs committee studying prorogation could not delve into itself.
    This is nothing more than a shameless attempt to cover up a big mistake made by the official opposition. Those members are embarrassed. They were caught in a web of their own incompetence and now they are trying to convince members of this place that it was all part of a plan, that they really wanted to put this opposition day motion forward and then amend it on site.
    We all know how this works. The official opposition knew at least a week ago that today was going to be its last opposition day. The official opposition did have a few potential motions for discussion on the order paper. If those members wanted to change it they had lots of time to amend or reword the current motion into a form that they agreed upon and wanted to present for discussion. They did not do so. Why? Because they were negligent. They were absolutely negligent in their duties.
    I am sure it was a staffer who asked the House leader if he knew what the motion says. Then the Liberals realized they had to do something to try to get away from the obvious embarrassment they were going to face by debating a motion that is absolutely ridiculous.
    The Liberals come here today and speak before Parliament, and try to convince members of this place that it was all part of their plan, it was all part of a motion that was going to come together and expand the terms of reference of their original motion.
    I heartily concur with my colleague from Hamilton Centre when he said this is a joke. One would think that the official opposition that purports to be a government-in-waiting could make better use of its final opposition day of this session than this. Is there nothing else worthy of discussion on an opposition day?
    Could the Liberals not talk about the G8 or G20? They seem to be fixated on that topic in question period. Could they not talk about pensions for Canadians? Discussions have been held between many members of this House about pensions and the need for pension reform. The Liberals did not want to talk about that. Instead, they come in with a motion that duplicates the efforts of a standing committee that is already studying the very issue that they put forward here today. It is absolutely ridiculous and it is a waste of the House's time.
    That is why every member of this place should be thoroughly and totally insulted by what is happening here today. There are other members of this place who are far more experienced than I and have more seniority than I. I would ask if any one of them could stand in this place and think of another example during an opposition day motion where this type of situation occurred, where a motion was brought forward to create a special parliamentary committee to conduct a study on an issue that was already being studied by a standing committee of Parliament. I defy anyone in this place to give me one example of this ever happening before in the history of Parliament. This is a major embarrassment for the Liberal Party. Those members are merely trying to put a good spin on it, but they are failing miserably.
    I will only say this in conclusion. If this is the best that the official opposition can do on its final opposition day of this session, then those members are not fit to govern. If they cannot handle a simple task like bringing forward a relevant motion to discuss on their opposition day, then they are not fit to govern.


    I think we have already seen evidence that they understand that themselves. The fact that their leader is openly musing about perhaps forming a coalition with the New Democratic Party is an admission of defeat in itself, and I think they have admitted to Canadians, and I think Canadians understand, that they cannot govern, so perhaps the only way that they might be able to form a government is with the assistance of the New Democratic Party.
    I am not a big believer in polls, but I do believe that at certain times, in the snapshots of time that we all say polls are, that they are an accurate reflection of what Canadians are thinking. I noticed with great interest, over the course of the last six to eight months, that the approval rating of the Leader of the Opposition is close to single digits.
     There is no wonder why members of his own party are openly musing about getting a new leader in before an election. There is no wonder when members of their party are talking about perhaps forming a coalition with other members of this place. There is no wonder that other members of their party are talking about a merger.
    They have admitted in their words and, today, their actions that they are not fit to govern. They do not have the ability to govern. They should not be trusted with the reins of government.
    I am absolutely offended as a member of the procedure and House affairs committee to be subjected to this type of motion, which is a direct slap in the face to myself, to my good friend and my colleague from Hamilton Centre, and every other member of the procedure and House affairs committee. This is a sham, this is an insult, and every Canadian should be aware of it.
    Mr. Speaker, when I listen to the hon. member, I realize how scared the Conservative Party is, absolutely, totally scared.
    It is scared of an election. Why are the Conservatives scared of an election? It is because they have created humongous boondoggles. Every minister has been found to be unaccountable. These new sheriffs in town talking about accountability are totally unaccountable.
    The Minister of Industry, the Minister of the Environment, the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities, and the Minister of Natural Resources who then had to be put down to another ministry, all of them are totally unaccountable. They do not think Parliament is supreme. The Prime Minister has absolute contempt for Parliament.
     This is important. Every time somebody does not agree with the Conservatives, prorogation. It is important for Canadians to be aware that the government, that is so hypocritical, will stand up and say, “Well, guess what, we have such a good agenda” when only two bills have been passed. Where is the agenda? Where is the intelligence? Where is the thought process?
    This is how intelligent it is. The government has wasted and blown $13.2 billion and created a $54 billion deficit. It is incompetent, unaccountable and undemocratic. I can now see why it is so scared of an election, and so scared of its own shadow.
    Mr. Speaker, I just want to quote a line that a political leader spoke not too many months ago.
     The line was, and I know I cannot say indirectly what I can say directly, but I do want to make this quote, so forgive me if I name a member here. The quote was from a member who I am sure my colleague across the floor knows well. The quote was:
Mr. Harper, your time is up.
    Order. Questions and comments.
    Mr. Speaker, I heard the word hypocritical over there a minute ago, and I said, “Oh my goodness”.
    I will pause for a second. I cannot believe that the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons actually agreed with us. That is something for the books.
    When members talk about hypocrisy here in this place, they talk about how the government has failed repeatedly and the abysmal record it has, but over 100 times that party either abstained or supported the government. Now they have this opportunity to bring something of substance forward in this place, and they are looking to form a committee when they have a committee already doing the work. It is ridiculous.
    I will counter that with what the NDP chose to do with two of its opposition days. The first one was on the seniors charter, when we talked about their needs and a plan for their future. Last June, retirement security for seniors was the NDP opposition day motion. We did not go searching for other committees. I am just getting carried away here. It is so unbelievable.
    I recall last year, on employment insurance, someone was talking about drawing a line in the sand. If he keeps drawing those lines, he will not have many toes left.


    Mr. Speaker, this is very scary because for the second time in less than half an hour I agree with the comments of another member of the NDP. Before I was cut off by the Chair, I did misuse language. I named a member. I was going to point out to my hon. colleague from the Liberal Party a quotation made by someone she is familiar with: “Mr. Prime Minister, your time is up”.
    Of course, that was delivered a few months ago by the Leader of the Opposition. The context was that he was going to force an election. The member opposite said that the Conservatives are afraid of an election. It seems to me that it is that party that is somewhat fearful of going to the polls. It is no wonder, with a leader of a party that is almost in single digits, or perhaps at single digits.
    However, that is not the point. An election will come whenever it is held, but what we are talking about here is an abuse of Parliament's time. We have an opposition day motion that should be discussing something that is at least relevant and new. Whatever the topic is, I do not really care. We have opposition days so that the opposition can pick a topic it wants to discuss, a topic that is important to its party and perhaps that it feels is important to Canadians.
    However, the Liberals have brought a topic forward that is absolutely useless, redundant, insulting, and embarrassing for the last opposition day of a session, and then they are trying to justify it. I am not only offended but embarrassed to be sitting in a place where I have to put up with this kind of drivel. It is embarrassing.
    Mr. Speaker, the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader's speech outlined, passionately and on the mark, just how bad the Liberals have dropped the ball today. They could have brought in some very substantive motion today, talking about major policy issues, but I guess nothing came out of the thinkers conference they had this past winter. They have nothing to discuss and no policy propositions to bring forward on behalf of Canadians.
    Instead, they are trying to diminish the work of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. It is embarrassing that they would use their last opposition day to deal with something that has already been dealt with. The work at committee has been substantive. The discussion has been good on this whole issue of prorogation.
    There is one thing that the parliamentary secretary did not touch on. In this time of fiscal constraint, perhaps we should not be looking at adding more administrative burdens on the House. We have been talking about all of the expenses surrounding the operations of Parliament. The Liberals want to set up another special committee that would put a Liberal in the chair and have to pay out an additional salary for a chairmanship that would cost $11,165. Is that appropriate use of parliamentary time, parliamentary resources and taxpayers' money?
    Mr. Speaker, I mentioned in my remarks a little while ago that the Liberal chair, because the Liberals are suggesting of course that the chair of the special committee be a Liberal member, would receive $10,000 in additional salary for those duties. My hon. colleague is correct. The exact amount was $11,165.
    Beyond that, the special committee would incur additional costs for flying in, in some cases, or arranging for witnesses to come before the committee. These would be the same witnesses that the procedure and House affairs committee has already brought in for discussion and analysis.
    It is not only an insult and inappropriate. It is an absolute, complete waste of taxpayers' dollars, all done for one reason: to try and mask the fact that this opposition day motion was a mistake. They dropped the ball. They did not realize what they had put on the order paper until it was too late. Everything we have heard today from the opposition party's benches is trying to justify and spin the fact that they dropped the ball big time.


    Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate the member's lack of belief with respect to the strange coalition with the NDP. I am looking at the record with respect to the leader of the NDP and on numerous occasions he has said that the NDP would bring forward a similar resolution with respect to this issue of prorogation.
     When a poll was taken after prorogation, 78% of Canadians said that the Prime Minister had abused his office with respect to the democratic principles of Parliament being supreme. Is the member holding in contempt 78% of Canadians who believe that this is the kind of resolution and the kind of direction that should come forward and that it is the responsibility of Parliament to bring that forward? Is he saying that it is the opposition now that is abusing that right?
    I would suggest that it is the opposition motion that gives credibility to those Canadians who felt that the Prime Minister and the government were abusing parliamentary privilege when it prorogued. I think that is what Canadians are watching and I think they expected more than they got from that speech, I would suggest with great respect.
    Mr. Speaker, the member for York South—Weston is, quite frankly, one of my favourite members in the House. He represents his constituents well and represents all Parliament well in his place.
    However, with great respect, whether the member opposite feels that there was an abuse of the power of prorogation is irrelevant in this context because we are already conducting a study to determine that very thing. That was my point, that was the point from the member for Hamilton Centre and that was the point from every other member in this place.
    It is an inappropriate, irrelevant, unnecessary motion to be brought forward here. All the Liberals are doing is trying to cover up their own incompetence.


    Mr. Speaker, the Liberal opposition day motion covers some things that are already being done. A legislative committee is working on the prorogation issue. Still, the main advantage of this motion is that it gives us the opportunity to discuss the December prorogation again. The government realized that that was a serious mistake, and it is trying to make us forget about it. As this session comes to a close, I believe it is not a bad idea to look at the Conservative government's overall behaviour by means of this motion, which I must say is not the most original motion I have ever heard.
    That said, though, I do think the motion gives us a chance to take stock of the anti-democratic behaviour of the Conservative government and the Prime Minister. Of course, we will not vote for this motion if the amendment is not passed, because it would be pretty odd to vote to set up a special committee that would have to report next Wednesday. We reserve our decision on this. The motion is an opportunity to take stock of how this government has behaved in the House since 2006.
    Things would have been different if last December had been the first time the government had used prorogation, a perfectly legitimate mechanism in the British parliamentary tradition whereby the Governor General is asked to prorogue the session. We would have understood if the government had asked for a prorogation for the first time because it had nearly completed its legislative agenda and the bills it had introduced over the months had been debated, amended, passed, defeated or what have you.
    But December was the second time the government and the Prime Minister used prorogation to avoid answering the opposition's questions and facing up to their responsibilities. So we are completely within our right to criticize and challenge the government's actions, because the only purpose of last December's prorogation was to suppress allegations that Afghan detainees transferred by the Canadian Forces to the Afghan authorities were tortured. We all know about it now, so the government's tactic did not work. But the fact that it did not work is not why it was the wrong thing to do.
    Earlier the parliamentary secretary talked about what a waste it would be to create a new committee. Was there any bigger waste this year, in 2010, than the month of parliamentary work the Conservatives made us lose? They supposedly tried to make up for lost time by getting rid of break weeks. That was the biggest waste there ever was.
    The money spent on the G8 and the G20, the fake lake and the virtual decor is one thing but this is on an entirely different plane. We are talking here about a month of parliamentary work that could have prevented what happened yesterday when the government pulled out of its hat a bill that was introduced in mid-May. The government did not bring the bill back to the House until June 6 or 7 and told us, a few days before the end of the session, that the bill was absolutely necessary for preventing a notorious criminal, Ms. Homolka, from applying for a pardon.
    Why did the government not wake up sooner? In part because we lost a month of parliamentary work as a result of this unnecessary prorogation. And then the government tried, as it has many times before, to push through a bill that we are not prepared to accept without amendments. We voted to refer Bill C-23 to committee in order to study it seriously and to amend it. The government wanted to impose its agenda on us.
    The Bloc Québécois stood firm. I am pleased to note that the other opposition parties did so as well. The Liberal Party in particular stood firm for once. We forced the government to accept a compromise that everyone could agree on. The bulk of Bill C-23 will be studied in committee and we will take the time to amend it in order to change what we dislike about it.


    Our experience yesterday with the drama invented by the Minister of Public Safety and the Conservative government could have been avoided had we used the month of February to examine bills already introduced and if the government had better planned its work.
    I will give an example. Why was it urgent to pass Bill C-2 on the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement? Was it really urgent that it pass? The government devoted all kinds of time, effort and resources to try to ram the bill down the throat of the NDP and the Bloc Québécois, even though our trade with Colombia is very limited. Furthermore, the human rights situation and democratic rights in Colombia are cause for a great deal of concern.
    We could have used the parliamentary time to examine Bill C-23 earlier. However, the government decided otherwise. It is its right and responsibility, but it did not make responsible choices. This is all the result of the Prime Minister's decision of December 30, 2009 to prorogue the session until early March.
    There is another negative aspect. Thirty-six bills died on the order paper, including 19 justice bills. That is an indication of the hypocrisy of the Conservative's rhetoric on justice. Once again, the government told us that it was proroguing to recalibrate its political and legislative agenda. Perhaps it understood that a number of its bills were not acceptable to Quebeckers and many Canadians. It told us it was proroguing in order to come back refreshed in March.
    So, what happened? Two days after the start of the session, the government proposed a budget that was completely unacceptable to Quebec. There was nothing in the budget to meet the needs of the regions or the forestry and aerospace sectors. Nor was there anything for the unemployed in Quebec or in Canada. The government spent one and a half months to present the same, unacceptable budget that it presented in spring 2009.
    During that month, no work was done. I wonder what the Conservatives were doing. They probably travelled around handing out cheques. In Quebec, that has led to the Conservatives dropping below 16% in the polls. The fact remains that they acted under false pretences.
    That was the latest prorogation. With the other one, just a few weeks after the election, a few days after Parliament returned in November 2008, the Minister of Finance presented an economic statement that was nothing more than an ideological statement. No concrete measures were announced to combat the looming financial and economic crisis. Instead, it was an attack on the opposition parties, and on women's rights in particular. This attack was totally unacceptable to the three opposition parties and to a good number, if not the majority, of Canadians. I can assure you that the majority of Quebeckers were opposed to this dogmatic, ideological and provocative approach.
    The government sparked a political crisis a few weeks after the October 2008 election. It should have realized that it was a minority government and that Canadians had given it a minority in the House, especially Quebeckers, who sent a majority of Bloc Québécois members to represent them in Ottawa. The Prime Minister should have realized that a minority government has to work with the opposition parties.
    That is not what he did. Instead, he sparked a political crisis and the opposition parties reacted by proposing an NDP-Liberal coalition, supported by the Bloc, on certain conditions that we announced and that were respected by the NDP-Liberal coalition at that time.
    A confidence vote was scheduled, and instead of submitting to the decision of the House, the Prime Minister chose to pay another visit to the Governor General to request prorogation and avoid being held accountable. His request was granted, but only after two hours of discussions I must point out.


    I suspect that her attitude and the fact that she had the nerve to question the Prime Minister cost Michaëlle Jean her job as Governor General. Of course, we do not know exactly what they talked about, but the conversation took long enough to suggest that she did not say yes right away, which is what often happens, and may have asked for an explanation. At any rate, the House was prorogued once again at the Prime Minister's request to avoid a confidence vote.
    The very same thing happened during the September 2008 election. The government built up expectations. We have seen some of that during this session too, particularly in the spring when they paralyzed the committees. Mao Zedong gave us the Little Red Book, and then the Prime Minister gave us a blue book about how any good, self-respecting Conservative can sabotage a committee's work. The government created an artificial paralysis in the committees. The Prime Minister and his Conservative members and ministers, with their sorrowful and utterly false statements, have apparently tried to convince Canadians and Quebeckers that opposition parties were to blame for this paralysis because they blocked committee work on legitimate government bills passed in the House.
    After this buildup, the Prime Minister simply triggered an election in an attempt to not have to answer the opposition's questions on a number of issues and, in particular, to not have to respond to the allegations of torture in Afghanistan.
    There again, this way of doing things seems fine according to British parliamentary tradition, but it is very questionable in terms of democratic legitimacy. Finally, the government is using all sort of tactics to not have to answer for its actions, to try and impose its backwards, conservative agenda on policy, economic, social and cultural fronts. And if that is not suitable, it provokes the opposition and tries, with measures that are, again, fully legal, to short-circuit the work of Parliament.
    I think that it is important to use this opportunity provided to us by the Liberals to remind the public of that. At the same time, I must say that the Conservatives' provocative approach, which is extremely negative and undemocratic, has been encouraged by the Liberals' weakness because the government knew in advance that not all of the Liberal members would be in the House to vote against the budget implementation bill, Bill C-9. Again tonight, we will be voting on supply and it will be interesting to count the number of Liberal members in the House.
    Benefiting from this weakness, the Conservatives try to impose their agenda on the opposition—on the Liberal Party in particular—and we have seen this throughout the session.
    Another example of extremely questionable Conservative behaviour is the issue of the documents concerning allegations of torture in Afghanistan. A motion had to be passed in the House on December 10, ordering the government to produce a series of relevant documents that would reflect the work done by the Afghanistan committee concerning allegations of torture. The House adopted the motion by only a slight majority. A number of weeks after prorogation, we had to raise this issue and demand these documents again. Each time, the government tried to deflect the question by tabling highly censored documents that showed nothing that would lead us to believe that it was responding to the motion passed on December 10 requiring them to produce documents.
    The fact that the requests for the production of documents do not die on the order paper following a prorogation, as government bills do, might come as a surprise for the Prime Minister and the Conservatives. Perhaps the Prime Minister had been misinformed and believed that by proroguing Parliament, the order to produce documents concerning allegations of torture in Afghanistan would disappear. That was not the case.
    The opposition did not give up, and questions of privilege had to be raised so that the Speaker could intervene in the matter.


    The Speaker's historic decision of April 27, 2010, was very clear: the documents must be handed over, while protecting all information related to national security, defence and international relations, and the opposition has always agreed with that. However, we had to pressure the government further to reach an agreement in principle. We also had to constantly brandish the sword of Damocles—contempt of Parliament—so as to obtain the compromises needed from the government in order to finally implement the mechanism. We only hope that it will be implemented quickly.
    This shows how we had to push the government to the wall in order to obtain results that, theoretically, should not have posed a problem, since there had been a democratic majority vote in the House. The government should have simply obeyed the order of the House, yet each time we had to use every means at our disposal to force the government to respect the democratic decision made in the House.
    We are still in the same situation today. The House is about to rise for the summer break and we will be in exactly the same position when we come back around September 20.
    The government has decided not to let political staff appear before committees anymore. The Prime Minister no longer allows his press secretary and director of communications, Dimitri Soudas, to appear before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics. The committee therefore gave Mr. Soudas an ultimatum: he must appear. But he is hiding. There is bound to be a new children's game called Where's Dimitri? after Where's Waldo? The bailiffs tried to serve him with a subpoena, but he followed the Prime Minister to Europe to avoid it.
    The Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics legitimately and legally said that Mr. Soudas had to be aware of the subpoena requiring him to testify before the committee, because the newspapers had written about it. But perhaps Dimitri does not read the papers, which would be an unusual thing for the press secretary and director of communications with the Prime Minister's Office. Dimitri Soudas is well aware he has to testify before the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics, and the deadline was yesterday.
    Today, the committee is starting to write a report that will be tabled in the House. It may be tabled tomorrow, next week or when Parliament resumes. This report will serve as the basis for a new question of privilege and for making a case for contempt of Parliament.
    We are leaving off at the same point as where we were at the beginning of this session. The atmosphere in Parliament is rotten, poisoned by the Conservatives' anti-democratic attitude, which has nearly reached the point of provocation a number of times.
    Again, what happened yesterday was quite something. At the beginning of the day, the Minister of Public Safety, accompanied by the ineffable Senator Boisvenu, came to tell us that it was Bill C-23 or nothing. At noon, we were told it was Bill C-23 or nothing. Finally, they had to fold.
    Instead of trying to get Bill C-23 passed with all its poison pills, it would have been much simpler for the government to tell the opposition parties that it wanted to prevent Ms. Homolka from being able to apply for a pardon, given that she was released from prison five years ago.
    The government could have asked that, in light of the seriousness of the acts she committed, we amend the current pardon legislation—that is not actually the title—to change the period of time before an individual is eligible for a pardon to 10 years from the current five years. We would have been open to discussing that, but again, there was a pseudo political crisis provoked by the Conservatives.
    I will close by saying that an anti-democratic attitude is poisoning the atmosphere. The government also has an anti-Quebec attitude that is supported more often than not by all Canadian parliamentarians and sometimes by MPs from Quebec in parties other than the Bloc.
    I am thinking about the Canada-wide securities commission and Bill C-12 to reduce Quebec's political weight in the House, the GST and QST harmonization, where the government is not just dragging its feet, it has shut the door. I am thinking about the government's attitude with regard to climate change and culture, which is extremely important to Quebec's identity.
    There are also the issues of equalization, employment insurance and the guaranteed income supplement. Not only is this government anti-democratic in the way it does things, but it is not meeting the needs of Quebec and the people.



    Mr. Speaker, I am not necessarily sure about my hon. colleague's comment that other members of the House might not understand or respect Quebec in the way those members do. I lived in Montreal for five years, coming from Newfoundland and Labrador. I found Quebec to be absolutely stunning and its people and I never regret going there.
    I will ask him a question about the level of brinkmanship in the House. Because we are in a minority situation, time and time again we find ourselves on a wedge issue where we pull ourselves to the extreme. The art of compromise is something that is a beautiful thing once it is attained. The problem with this House is we try to play to the polls to which we accede. I know other members of the House, including the Conservatives, brought up the polling figures.
    In the examples he has given, when it comes to the pardon issue or the Afghan detainee issue, what would he provide as a solution for the House to avoid this brinkmanship? Could he couch his words around the idea of the prorogation as an example of how the power that vests in the government of the day to push us into a corner should not be within its power and that Parliament should be the supreme power in that nature?


    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question. I am pleased that he enjoyed his time in Montreal.
    I agree completely with him on this point. If we want a minority government to work, the government in power—in this case the Conservative government—must recognize that it is in a minority position and must therefore work with the opposition. It must have the support of at least one of the opposition parties or, better yet, all these parties in order to pass its bills. In that context, I am convinced that this Parliament could be extremely productive.
    I am thinking about the era of Liberal minority governments. With the support of the NDP, very interesting bills were introduced. When Mr. Pearson formed a minority government, Quebec made extraordinary gains. The Quebec pension plan and the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec were established. A minority government does not necessarily mean an ineffective or unproductive government. That is what happens when a minority government conducts itself as though it had a majority.
    Unfortunately, we cannot count on the Conservatives to change their attitude. All too often they have made promises and not kept them. I remember that, after the October 2008 election, the Prime Minister said that he would tour Canada and Quebec to listen to the people and to recalibrate his way of doing things. They tabled the Minister of Finance's ideological statement around November 24, 2008, which, if my memory serves me well, caused the crisis we are familiar with.
    Therefore, new structures and new rules must be put in place to force the government, especially a minority government, to respect the parliamentary rules. That also applies to a majority government. The rules under which the Prime Minister can ask for prorogation must be changed. The leader of the official opposition has made some suggestions. That could also have consequences.
    I will close with an example. A government that asks for prorogation and obtains it without consulting the House could see its bills that died on the order paper blocked for two or three months before being reintroduced. There has to be a price to pay for such undemocratic actions.



    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this motion.
    Let me first make it crystal clear lest there be any doubt on anyone's part, that we on this side of the House, the NDP members, feel just as strongly as anybody about prorogation and the abuse of it by the current government. We are totally outraged.
    There were demonstrations in my riding, downtown in Gore Park. People went out into the cold, frigid Canadian winter to protest their anger at the government's shutting down their Parliament. Every one of my colleagues attended rallies and committee meetings. They met with people and talked about this with local media. It was the main focus for weeks and weeks at the beginning of this year.
    In fact, the NDP felt so strongly against what the government was doing in its abuse of prorogation that when we finally got back into this place, on March 17 the leader of the NDP, the member for Toronto—Danforth, placed a motion before the House, which was approved by this House, which states the following:
    That, in the opinion of the House, the Prime Minister shall not advise the Governor General to prorogue any session of any Parliament for longer than seven calendar days without a specific resolution of this House of Commons to support such a prorogation.
    I would note parenthetically that following that motion carrying in the House, the committee met a mere 10 days after the Liberals first tabled their original motion.
    That motion was debated in the House, passed, and went to the appropriate committee, that being the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs. As the democratic reform critic, I substitute in whenever this comes up and the committee has been dealing with that since April 22, which is exactly what the motion before us says.
    The opening words of the unamended motion, because it has to be amended to make it fit today, states:
    That a special committee of the House be hereby established to undertake an immediate study of all relevant issues pertaining to prorogation, including the circumstances in which a request that Parliament be prorogued would be appropriate or inappropriate, and the nature of any rule changes (either by way of the Standing Orders or legislation or both) that may be necessary to avoid any future misuse of prorogation.
    It goes on, but those are the basic instructions. The problem is that those basic instructions are exactly the mandate of the committee that is now seized of the motion that was passed by the House earlier, having been moved by the leader of my party, the member for Toronto—Danforth.
    I am all for kicking the government every chance I get regarding prorogation, absolutely, let us go for it, but we did that writ large. Canadians did a pretty good job of making sure that prorogation is now as well known as any other political term might be in this country whereas before it was hardly known at all. There are a lot of Canadians who are still angry. That is why we have the committee.
    I understand the official opposition wanted a vehicle to kick the government regarding prorogation. Fair enough, if that is the most burning issue, given the fact that the incident in question happened six months ago and a committee is already dealing with this issue, and I will get into the work it has already done in a moment, but if that is what the Liberals want to do, if they feel that is the burning issue, okay.
    However, one really would think that with all the supports the official opposition has, it could have come up with something a little more imaginative. At the very least, it could have come up with something that does not so obviously duplicate something we have done in the past.
    It really does look like the official opposition, after having made a big deal of wanting its opposition days, realized it had one on the last day and thought about what it would do. It panicked, grabbed it off the shelf, brushed off the dust, submitted it and said it will spend the afternoon kicking around prorogation. Since it is the last day of the House, nobody is paying attention anyway and it does not need to do too much with it.


    That seems to be the approach the official opposition takes on opposition days. It was not that long ago the official opposition moved a motion and it failed, in part because it did not have all its members on side. It had not talked to its members to see how they would vote.
    This is one of the few opportunities where the opposition gets to control the floor of the House of Commons. Usually, under the normal rules, the government calls the shots. That is just the way the system works. We rarely get these opportunities. On the last opposition day we would have thought the official opposition would want to go out with a bang, or at least go out looking clever. Now it is not even going to go out looking competent.
    I want to say a couple of words about the committee and then I want to speak very directly to the amendment because there are points to be made.
    First, for anyone who is watching, the motion before us by the Liberals calls for a special committee to be struck and then it goes into great length about the details of who will be on it, who will chair it, all those details and so on.
    The problem is that we already have a committee that is dealing with that issue and dealing with an NDP motion that passed the House. The committee started meeting on April 22. We have had 10 meetings. We have met for 15 committee hours. We have heard from 16 presenters. So 10 meetings, 15 hours, 16 presenters, and what? Do we throw that away? Will we just say it does not matter, throw that away and call it a practice run?
    The Liberal House leader during one of his famous Regina monologues went on to tell us all about how the amendments make everything wonderful. Do not worry. The original motion was kind of stale-dated but the amendments today fix that and make everything relevant. So the Liberals are exactly where they need to be.
    Let us have a look at some of these amendments:
that the special committee also take into account any report on prorogation that may be forthcoming from the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, and provide an analysis of the consequences of the use of prorogation as a device to avoid accountability or to silence voices that may wish to express disagreement with the government;
    That is what the committee is doing. The committee is going to be holding hearings. We have heard from 16 experts, some of the leading constitutional lawyers, professors and political scientists in the country, people who are designated as advisers to the Governor General on constitutional matters.
    Our plan is at the end of that, we will start writing a report. Will we agree on the report? I doubt it. Is it going to be fascinating to see where we end up? Yes. Is it loaded with all kinds of partisan politics? Yes. Is it important and affects the future of how we operate this place? Yes again.
    The amendment does not add anything new. It just duplicates what we have already done. It makes it sound as though there is a process that the Liberals have really thought through.
    It drives us crazy when the Liberals will not admit when they have screwed up. They have to dig themselves further and further into a hole. They leave the impression that the committee can do its work and then they will take the report, and will do what? Real committee work? Will they somehow do the finished product? It does not make any sense at all. One need not to have been here for too many years or to know much about politics to figure out that it does not make a whole lot of sense to start up a special committee to do work that is already being done by a committee.
    These amendments are an attempt to make the official opposition look fresh and to make it look relevant and it is not.


    A colleague from another party mentioned something interesting to me so I do not take ownership of this, but on that side of the House there is a fake lake, and on this side of the House there is a fake motion. Really, what we are dealing with here is a fake motion that does not mean anything.
    If the Liberal members want to rant against the government regarding prorogation, okay. If that is their political priority, I do not quite get it, but that is fine. They have that right. But why not do something imaginative, come up with something relevant, something that furthers the issue?
    Mr. Fin Donnelly: Something real.
    Mr. David Christopherson: Mr. Speaker, my colleague said, “something real”.
    I do not agree with the government on too much with regard to prorogation. However, on the specific narrow issue of whether or not this is a redundant, ridiculous, unnecessary motion, I agree wholeheartedly. It is a shame that the official opposition gives us this motion as its homework. Any teachers in the room I suspect would be giving the official opposition an F.
    Let us go back to the amendments that are supposed to make this motion relevant and make it all fresh and okay and actually mean something, “that the committee consist of”, and there are the details of what the new super spiffy committee would look like. The Liberals have outlined who would be on it.
    It goes on, “that the committee have all of the powers of a Standing Committee as provided in the Standing Orders”. That is a great idea. It really is. If we are going to look at something this serious, we want to make sure that we have all the powers of a standing committee to do the job properly. Therefore, the House, in its wisdom, sent this motion to, oh, yes, a standing committee. Come on, how lame.
    Let us go on to the spiffiness, “that the members to serve on the said committee be appointed by the Whip of each party depositing with the Clerk of the House a list of his or her party's members of the committee no later than June 23, 2010”. That is really important.
    It goes on, “that membership substitutions be permitted to be made from time to time, if required, in the manner provided for in Standing Order 114(2)”. That would be kind of like what we can do in standing committees. We want to ensure the special committee has all the powers of a standing committee because the current standing committee does not have, well, see what happens when we try to do Liberal think? It does not work. It does not take us anywhere.
    Here is the best. This is my favourite, by far. This is the one I love. It is the last amendment, the spiffying-up amendment, “by deleting the words 'June 23, 2010' and substituting the following: 'November 2, 2010'.”. Why is that there? If the Liberals had not put that in there, this new spiffy special committee would have to report in six days.
    Granted, it made a whole lot of sense back in April when the Liberals originally tabled the motion. However, the fact that this special committee would be due to report in six days and they have had to amend the reporting date really underscores just how laughable and sad state of affairs the official opposition has presented itself today.
    Again, I appreciated the remarks of the parliamentary secretary to the government House leader who sits on the committee as a regular member, as do some other members who are here today. I thought the Liberals would have a good point if it ever came out that the committee was not working right. That would be the best argument they would have, if the committee were log-jammed and we were into political partisan fighting, as is occurring in some of the other committees. I thought, boy, if that came out they might have a bit of an argument. The problem is it is not true.
     The committee is working fine. It really is. We have not gotten into the deliberations of what we want to do about changes. That is where the real sparks are going to fly, and that will happen in due course, just like we do with everything else around here.


    However, the committee members right now are respectful, as my colleague the parliamentary secretary said. At this stage, we are trying to learn. Most of us here, while we are privileged and honoured to cast the votes that decide the laws of Canada, are not all constitutional experts and that is good. We need constitutional experts but we also need people who take that expertise and apply it to law-making in a way that benefits the majority of people. That is where elected representatives come into it. We are the interface between the people in our ridings and this place. However, the member would have us start that all over again.
    We have 16 of the smartest, most patriotic, probably high priced, constitutional advisers in the entire country and the debates in question are not acrimonious. We are legitimately trying to get up to speed, members from all three caucuses. We listen, we ask questions, we read and assimilate the information and we bring in the next presenters. We pose questions to them based on some of the arguments of others, because they do not always agree, which is what makes it so fascinating.
    My point is the committee is doing exactly what it should do. When some questions come out, the government looks better or worse depending on the issue, but we are not doing like I am doing now, into full flight debate and going at each other. That is not going on.
    The official opposition cannot even say the committee is not working right and therefore we need this other committee. There are three relevant points of the debate today. First is the government's abuse of prorogation has to stop. Second, the House has already been seized with the issue and passed a motion by the member for Toronto—Danforth expressing one formula. That was sent to the committee and the committee is now having its deliberations. Third, this is an absolute waste of an official opposition day, period, let alone the official opposition bringing in a motion that calls for a committee to deliver a report due in six days from the day we debate it.
    Some might say if it were the Bloc and the NDP, they do not have the same resources, what they do is not as important as the official opposition and that is the reality of this place. However, that is not the case. The Liberals purport to be a government in waiting. We keep waiting to see where the government is going to be. It sure is not in this motion and it is not around whatever little thinking went into it. I guess that is really the point. There does not seem to have been any thought. It is as if we are getting toward the end of the game and we can just slack off. It looks like slacking off, like it is the last day, it does not matter so why do we not put that forward and debate it for awhile?
    Mr. Scott Simms: It's like dinner theatre.
    At least dinner theatre is entertaining unlike the motion which is not even that. It is just a plain waste of time, a waste of this place to talk about a motion to create a committee when we already have the committee doing the work. If Liberals wanted to advance the issue of prorogation and have a legitimate reason to speak, then that is fine. I would question their priorities at this point, but do something creative. Bring in something that actually advances the cause rather than just being so flippant about it. They just take any old motion and not to worry. We will rant away the last day. It all seems like it is more important to think about getting out of here than the business at hand. It is still important just because it is the last day. Therefore, the official opposition undermines the importance of going after the government for its abuse of prorogation by bringing in something that is so flimsy.


    Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the work that has already been done in the standing committee. Would my colleague talk about having an additional committee doing the same thing? What kind of resources does that take and what kind of staffing does it need? During these times, when we are trying to be very respectful of taxpayer dollars, could the member talk about what the impact of this committee might be?
    Mr. Speaker, there is definitely a cost and if we are duplicating work, it is a waste. When special committees need to be struck, the money is not really the issue. If it is important work that needs to be done. That is why there are budgets to do the work. I think the member's point is very well taken. In this case, it is a waste.
     As I read this and, like the hon. member, I was struggling to figure out what the thinking was. If I follow this correctly, we are supposed to finish our work at the committee and then after that this new committee gets struck. It takes our work and then I am not sure what it does. Our work is meant to finalize the issue and make recommendations back to the House.
    I am not sure what the committee would do. In that regard, it is a total waste of money and time. It is also a waste of intellectual opportunity to bring in something like this today. I agree with the member. It is waste all around.
    Mr. Speaker, during the period the member for Hamilton Centre referred to, I remember I went to a rally in Toronto, downtown at Yonge and Dundas. I really wanted to participate, not as a Liberal, a Conservative or New Democrat, but as a Canadian taxpayer and express my frustration. I was disappointed.
     I was pleased with the people who showed up, young, old and everybody in between. However, as the rally moved on, it was hijacked by the NDP. It was not a Canadian rally. It was an NDP rally. I left because it was not a true expression of all Canadians, but more so politically motivated.
     I do not know why the member is upset with the motion. We are trying to enhance what those members are supposedly concerned about, and that is how we address prorogation. The NDP members cannot speak and chew at the same time. They have to get their story straight. We are co-operating to pass the free trade agreement with Colombia. They do not agree. We have co-operated to pass crime legislation. They do not agree. They do not agree on anything. No wonder Canadians do not support them.


    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that detailed, succinct analysis of what is going on here today. I can appreciate the fact that the member is upset. Those members were hijacked. They are the second party. They are the official opposition. It was the fourth party, the NDP, that had its motion passed through the House. That is what they are upset about. They are trying to regain a little ground.
    The hon. member used the word “enhance”. I dissected the Liberals' amendment and motion line by line and I defy the official opposition to stand and show me or anyone else where their motion is an enhancement as opposed to a duplication of the work that is being done.


    Mr. Speaker, I have no words to express the appreciation I have for the NDP member and his idea of a “fake motion”, which is so appropriate. I would like to hear his comments on the fact that the motion was amended, and that the last amendment talks about November 1. Is that not the day after Halloween? Does that inspire him?


    Mr. Speaker, the member probably found the only way we could have managed to get the word “inspire” into this debate. I congratulate him on that.
     Again, it is the date. If I can pick up on the hon. member's comments, I believe the new date in the amendment is November 2. However, it is unlikely that our committee will be done its work. If we follow this nonsensical thinking, it would suggest that once we are done our work, then this new committee would pick up and go from there. It would be responsible for getting a report back to us by November 2 of this year.
    We are not going to be done by then. If we were, it would only be by a matter of weeks. It would be virtually impossible for that deadline to be met. Not only do the Liberals' have a stale-dated delivery date in the original motion, but their spiffy, spanking new shiny amendment, which is meant to fix everything, still does not fix it.
    It reminds me of Mike Harris when he brought in a planning act and it took seven further bills to amend each of the mistakes he made in the preceding one. That is what I am seeing here, with these kinds of dates moving around. They still have not been thought through.
    Mr. Speaker, I think people watching today would probably like to get an update as to what is happening with the committee. I was interested to know when it would report, but the member has just indicated it probably would not be until November. People may be asking if it will be reporting before a possible fall election. That is an important thing to consider as well.
    Mr. Speaker, although my colleague has not been in this place a long time, he served in the Manitoba legislature for the better part of 25, 30 years. It is like when we refer to rank, we always give people a higher one, never a low one. If we are not sure what their rank is, they are a general. The hon. member was there for 30 years until I hear different.
    The fact remains that he understands how the process works. We do not know exactly when we will report. I only said that I doubted we would be finished until November and if we were, it would only have been by a few weeks. Whether it would come before or after an election, I do not know. The parliamentary secretary made reference to the respect in the way the committee was working. No one is playing any games. We do not know when the election is coming. At this point, no one is saying let us get it done sooner or later to shaft this party or that party. None of that is going on. At this point, all we are doing is hearing from experts. We are getting close to finishing that. It is the first stage of our work. When that is done, we will begin to deliberate.
    The hon. member will know that once we are into deliberations, there is no way to know how long. It is like a jury. We could wrap it up in one day or it could take a year. There could be majority reports, minority reports. All I know, in my opinion as the member on the committee for our party, is the committee is doing the work that is necessary. It will deliver a report and the rest of this is just nonsense.
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague from Hamilton Centre has spoken quite articulately about the lack of substance and about the shortcomings of the motion. The hon. member was quite outraged by the House being prorogued at the end of last year, as I and many Canadians were.
    Could my hon. colleague talk about other issues that could help the official opposition, that could have been talked about? My riding of New Westminster—Coquitlam and Port Moodie is facing many issues, such as jobs, the economy, pensions, the environment, climate change, affordable housing or transit. The list is long. Could he comment on that, perhaps focusing on any real and substantive issues that are not already being dealt with? As he has already outlined, there is a committee to deal with this.


    Mr. Speaker, the member is absolutely right. We could pick any number of issues, as my colleague from Hamilton East—Stoney Creek did. We could pick an issue that matters to any of our constituents and put together an opposition day motion. It does not take that long if we have to do it at the last minute. It is easy to find issues that are important and bring them forward. However, to do this is what is so insulting.
    We have an opportunity. Prorogation and the abuse of it is really important, but as my colleague said, so is health care, so is the environment, so are jobs. Those are things that are not being dealt with in a way that is acceptable right now.
     The prorogation issue is in committee. We will have the fights. It is being dealt with in the way it would. Why are we not dealing with are matters with which we have not dealt yet? There is enough of those issues around.
    Mr. Speaker, I will be splitting my time with the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.
    This parliamentary session is starting to wind down. It may even be over by tonight. It has been quite fractious and contentious and, I would submit, little was accomplished with the exception of a raft of micro-mini criminal bills, many of which had already been introduced in previous sessions of Parliament or previous Parliaments themselves.
    This session was delayed by six weeks because of the Prime Minister's penchant for prorogation. Whenever the Prime Minister perceives that he is under a political threat he cancels Parliament. If it were up to the Prime Minister, Parliament would be limited to merely a throne speech declaration and budget rubber-stamping. Everything else would go by fiat. In fact, some might say that it already does.
    The parliamentary Westminster system gives a prime minister enormous power, power to select the executive, power to appoint the judiciary, power to appoint half of the legislature, power to keep his or her caucus in fear and trembling, plus literally thousands of other order in council appointments and a whole array of quasi-judicial bodies. However, that is not enough for our Prime Minister.
    The Prime Minister's repetitive resort to the use of prorogation got Canadians very upset. It was a gross political miscalculation and Canadians let him know, in no uncertain terms, that they expect their democracy to function here in this chamber and have their MPs heard on the issues of the day. However, the people they elected to represent them were muzzled, shut up and sidelined by the unilateral actions and the high-handedness of the Prime Minister.
    Canadians were so outraged that they held huge rallies on the Hill and elsewhere and started a Facebook site that instantly grew to over 200,000 users. Emails and letters were flying back and forth between MPs' offices and outraged citizens, and government MPs were accosted on a regular basis for their participation in shutting down Parliament.
    What is it that motivates the Prime Minister to shut down Parliament twice in 12 months? I submit that the present Prime Minister in particular, and like no other, cannot stand dissent or disagreement no matter how respectful. He is a command and control Prime Minister like no other. He brooks no backtalk from anyone, let alone those pesky, no nothing MPs who ask rude and impertinent questions. Those who demand transparency and accountability get nothing but stonewalling.
    It was nothing less than an historic ruling by you, Mr. Speaker, that reminded the Prime Minister that Parliament was supreme and that the government must bow to the will of Parliament.
    I would submit that there is a pattern here. It is not just the all too frequent resort to prorogation and it is not just the powerful ruling of you, Mr. Speaker. It is the systematic shutting down of voices of dissent.
    In February we learned that KAIROS, after a 30 year funding relationship with the Government of Canada, was terminated, and this spread apart from all of the various parties, a Conservative government and Liberal governments. After 30 years of good work by some of the most dedicated and sincere people that one would ever want to meet, it was shut down.
    KAIROS is made up of the Anglican Church, the Christian Reform, Presbyterians, Evangelical Lutherans, the United Church, Catholics, Quakers, Mennonites, pretty well the entire spectrum of the Christian community. However, it was not enough just to de-fund the KAIROS organization. The government said that it was a bunch of anti-Semites at the same time.
    If the Prime Minister can shut down Parliament on a whim and defy the conventions of Parliament until a Speaker makes a historic ruling, shutting down Canada's Christian churches is a mere nothing. Thirty years of paid full service were dismissed with a phone call in the night. Why? It was because the organization dared speak truth to power. It is chill and kill any voice of dissent. This is some democracy.


    However, KAIROS is neither the first nor the last. Rights & Democracy is an entity that was created by Parliament 22 years ago. It has developed an enviable international reputation. Here the pattern was to destabilize the board and, after a number of confrontations between the board and the staff, the staff signed a mass letter of protest against the board. Regardless of how it turns out and regardless of the findings of the committee of this House after its inquiry, its reputation will have to be rebuilt. At this point, its reputation is destroyed and it has lost its hard-won international credibility. By the way, they are also a bunch of anti-Semites.
    Do we see a pattern here? Shut down Parliament, have the Speaker force a ruling, dismiss Canada's churches and shut down Rights & Democracy, a well-respected international organization, by destabilization.
    My colleagues, the member for York Centre and the member for Winnipeg South Centre, hosted a meeting last Monday here on Parliament Hill. Seventeen organizations that have been de-funded or are on their way to being de-funded came to Parliament Hill to tell their story. They included the Assembly of First Nations, Council for International Co-operation, the Canadian Council on Learning, the Canadian Council on Social Development, Oxfam and a whole host of others that came to tell their story.
    What was interesting when I listened to their stories was that they did not realize that all of the others were being de-funded at the same time and that there was a pattern here, which was that any voice that disagrees with the government, no matter how muted or how respectful, gets shut down. It was sorry but after 5, 10, 15 or 20 years of a relationship where they spoke into the marketplace of ideas, it no longer wished to hear from them.
    Each group had its story and each group was either chilled and stilled or on its way to being chilled and stilled. Even those that do not receive funding from the government or whose funding is still secure were shocked by the extensive and pervasive pattern of the government to shut down the voices of dissent. Democracy suffers when those who have a different view are prevented from speaking.
    A friend sent me a note and expressed himself far more eloquently than can I. He said, “Canadians value greatly our open and democratic society, believe in the importance of human rights, including the right to free expression and the value of ensuring a diversity of views and perspectives in public debate. The government should act on its responsibility to promote effective policy debate and to cease and desist its active attacks, threats and de-funding campaigns to silence critics in civil society or in the public service who are acting in good faith, consistent with their mandates to create a healthy democracy and protect human rights.
    It gets worse. The Canadian Council for International Co-operation represents over 100 NGOs. It is possibly the most respected research and advocacy organization in Canada. It, too, is awaiting the dreaded midnight phone call. After 42 years of human rights work, it will be down the drain. If the government can shut down Parliament, KAIROS, CCIC and Rights & Democracy are mere nothings.
    I will end by quoting Martin Niemöller who famously said:
...they came first for the Communists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist. ... Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.
    Chill, kill and still is the pattern of the government. We are going backwards in this democracy. This past six months is a backward step for the freedom to speak in our democracy and to talk and have our voice heard. This is a pattern and it is a regrettable pattern that must stop.


    Mr. Speaker, I serve with the member on the finance committee and I have a great deal of respect for him but I am absolutely astounded by some of his remarks here today.
    The fact is that he was here in the House, as I was, when Parliament was prorogued in the past by the Liberal government when there was a full slate of bills on the order paper. When Prime Minister Chrétien prorogued twice when I was in opposition, I did not hear any complaints from the member at that time.
    In terms of dissent, it is interesting that the member equates not funding an organization with not allowing that organization to speak. An organization has every right to speak and every right to raise funds, as groups, such as Results Canada, do, which I know that he and I both respect.
    With respect to funding, though, the member is constantly telling me how we should be spending less as a government. If he does not think that cuts to those certain groups should have been made, I would like the member to stand in his place and state explicitly where he or the Liberal Party believes this government should actually cut funding instead of the funding to the groups that he has outlined.
    I would also like the member to address the issue of dissent. This Prime Minister, as a member of a centre right government, actually appointed to our most important foreign post perhaps the most successful centre left politician in this country at the provincial level, Gary Doer, to represent us in Washington. If that is not an example of a Prime Minister reaching across the ideological aisle to ensure that we are well represented as Canadians, I do not know what is.
    I would like the member to comment on those things and perhaps retract some of those outlandish statements he made in his speech here today.
    Mr. Speaker, as the hon. member said, I do serve on the finance committee with him and I do respect his work. It is one of the functioning committees, which I guess speaks to the point, because for the last six months the government has adopted a slash and burn attitude toward a lot of the committees and made them dysfunctional. That, too, is part of shutting down the voices.
    The hon. member and I have a great deal of time and respect for the Parliamentary Budget Officer but he has come before our committee and has said that he was not getting any co-operation from the government and therefore could not offer impartial and accurate advice to our committee.
    In terms of shutting down voices, there is Linda Keen of the Canada Nuclear Safety Commission; Adrian Measner of the Canadian Wheat Board; Yves Le Bouthillier, president of the Law Commission of Canada; Andrew Okulitch of Geological Survey of Canada; and Allan Amey, president of the Climate Fund Agency on Canada emissions reductions. I could go on with quite a list of people, all of whom have been silenced by the government. It is a chill on dissent in this country.


    Mr. Speaker, I am glad the member mentioned the Parliamentary Budget Officer. If the member will check the record of the finance committee, he will see that no one has appeared before our committee more often, certainly since I have been on that committee in the last two years, than that very Parliamentary Budget Officer.
    In fact, in the last supplementary estimates the member will know that the funding was increased for the Parliamentary Budget Officer. The member will also know that reporting is all done online. Canadians, parliamentarians or whoever can fact-check that out for themselves.
    In fact, voices that have at times been critical of this government and appointments that have been made by this government are very welcome to come to committee. There has never been a refusal by any Conservative member on the finance committee whenever a request from the opposition was made for the Parliamentary Budget Officer to come forward.
    The image that the member is portraying is so fundamentally wrong. What I like to tell Canadians back home, and I like to use hockey analogies, is that the reality is that as a minority government we are basically short-handed for 60 minutes and every once in a while we like to get a breakaway and hopefully score a goal.
    The reality is that it is hard to get anything done in committee because, as the member knows, the opposition always outweighs the government on any single vote. We have to cross the aisle to get anything done--
    I will have to stop the member there because there are only 30 seconds left to respond.
    Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the Parliamentary Budget Officer has been invited to the committee and has come freely many times. However, during each occasion that he has come to the committee he has said that he was not getting co-operation from the Department of Finance and the Government of Canada and that, therefore, he was limited in the report he could make to our committee and therefore to this Parliament. That is the point that the Parliamentary Budget Officer continues to make.
    I do not quite understand why that is not one of the more fundamental ways in which the alternative voice to the government--
    I will have to stop the member there.
    Resuming debate, the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor.
    Mr. Speaker, I am inspired to stand to debate and discuss the issue of prorogation itself, because I am concerned about the execution of it in the past and am deeply worried about how Parliament should behave.
     As a parliamentarian, I think I should defend the supremacy of Parliament. It is my responsibility to defend the institution. We bring laws in here. We certainly feel that given the supremacy of Parliament, it is a place where we should all behave. That way, any divisive issue, any issue that is used as a wedge to gain better poll positions or political points, should not be used through this particular procedure.
    Prorogation has certainly become a hot issue over the past two years. The first time it happened, it seemed to slip under the radar somewhat. The second time it occurred, the Conservatives thought the execution of it was so silky smooth that they were going to get away with it and that the general public would actually forget over time.
    However, we found ourselves in a grassroots campaign, compliments, for the most part, of social networking on the Internet, which brought this issue to the fore. We finally felt that the government recognized that the people of this country recognize the importance of their democratic institutions, primarily of course, in this particular situation of prorogation.
     I am glad that this motion is in the House today and that we are going through this procedure.
    In the meantime, we find ourselves at least trying to defend the institutions of Parliament, to the point where sometimes we get bogged down in the minutiae of day-to-day mudslinging, certainly when it comes to question period. I hope that the decorum will come back to the House so that we can show people that we are making a concerted effort to make this a truly democratic institution. My goodness, if we tried that, we would be heroes all.
    I want to point out some of the comments that have been made about the latest round of prorogation. I do not even have to explain it any more, because now everybody knows what prorogation is. Unfortunately, people know about prorogation because of the way we have been abusing it. That, in and of itself, is certainly sad when it comes to the House of Commons, which we hold in such high esteem.
    Nelson Wiseman is an esteemed professor whose opinions we rely on quite a bit around here. In an article, he writes:
    Responding to public revulsion, the director of communications for the Minister of Finance rhetorically asked in The Hill Times, “where was the outrage toward the previous 104 instances”?
    He went on to state:
    The answer is simple: no prime minister has so abused the power to prorogue. Harper’s former chief of staff Tom Flanagan understood the obvious: the purpose of prorogation —


    Order. The hon. member cannot name members of the chamber, even when quoting.
    Mr. Speaker, excuse me. It is late in the season, and I get a little carried away when it comes to defending the House of Commons.
    Anyway, I see that I have created quite a bit of excitement across the way. I would like to point out something else to them.
    Speaking about this particular situation, another certain professor, Andrew Heard, had these points about prorogation itself and about how we must be careful that we do not abuse the system. He said:
    There is little guidance to be had from historic precedent as no Prime Minister in Canada has asked for prorogation in the face of an almost certain defeat on a confidence vote. Prorogation is normally granted after many months of parliamentary business have elapsed....In 1988, Parliament was prorogued after only 11 sitting days....Prorogation came after only fourteen calendar days and twelve sitting days in the first session after the 1930 federal election. In both 1988 and 1930, however, the government had a solid majority in the House of Commons, and there was no question that prorogation would permit the government to avoid defeat.
    Basically, what he is saying is that the precedents that some people cite, and what happened before and quickly thereafter, were not questions of government survival, because the majority was in place. That was not the case this time.
    Now we find ourselves in a situation in which we could be abusing the system only for the sake of political survival. In this last particular situation, it was certainly perverse in the way it was used, because the government wanted to avoid one small particular issue: Afghan detainees.
    I would caution everyone in the House not to use the methods within the House to defeat the purposes of the supremacy of Parliament. I remember that just a short time ago we brought in a motion to say that we did not agree with reforms to NAFO, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization. There was a vote in the House that said that we did not agree with what they were doing in NAFO. We did not agree with the agreement that was struck in Europe, with many other countries, regarding the health of fish stocks off our coast, particularly the east coast.
    The vote said that we did not agree with it, yet the very next day, the government ratified the agreement, defying the opinion of the House.
    We might cite precedents showing when that has happened before. However, let us go back just a few more years and talk about 2006. I say this with the utmost respect. Let us talk about the document called “Stand Up for Canada”.
    As a man who is 5 feet 4 inches tall, I certainly appreciate the respect I can get when I stand up in the House. When the government stands up and says that it will bring every international agreement within the confines of the House to debate and vote on, it tells us that the government must respect Parliament. At least, that was the intention.
    The government did not even bring that agreement to the House. We had to bring this particular agreement to the House to debate. We voted. We did not like it. The next day, in defiance of that opinion, it was signed, or ratified, which is the term used.
    Bradley Miller, assistant professor, University of Western Ontario, made a good point about prorogation. He said:
    Prorogation is a regular event in the parliamentary cycle, but until this occasion had always come at the end of a legislative session—that is, when the government decided that its legislative agenda was complete. There is no Canadian precedent establishing that the Governor General has the power to refuse to grant prorogation in these circumstances....It is, however, arguable that the power to refuse dissolution ought to extend to the power to refuse prorogation....It is argued that one of the rationales for the power to refuse to grant a dissolution—to provide that check on the [government]....
     That applies in this particular situation. I would say, according to his words, that the Governor General has to take a greater role in the future so that dissolution, or in this case, prorogation, is not abused by the levers of government, because that power is vested within the Crown. Therefore, we must seriously consider that.
    Eric Adams is another highly esteemed professor. He said:
    The specific power to prorogue Parliament is unmentioned in the Constitution, but it was well understood by the framers to fall within the prerogative of the Crown.
    I just mentioned that idea.
    Blackstone stated and explained:
    A prorogation is the continuance of the parliament from one session to another, as an adjournment is the continuation of the session from day to day.
    That is a good point, because we do not stand here and try to interrupt the daily session just because it is not going well. There are times when we are just not performing up to par. I use that term rather lightly, as the House can well understand.


    We do not use that power to shut down for a particular day, so why should we shut this down for a particular session? They talked about the fact that we were holding up legislation, yet at the very same time, the government prorogued Parliament, killing 37 bills, the vast majority of which were promises it made in successive campaigns. The government thought that the execution was so silky smooth that it was actually going to work.
    The grassroots then decided that they did not think so.
    I agree that this committee should be struck. I agree that we should expedite the process by which we get to the bottom of prorogation and deal with it using the recommendations we bring.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the member a few questions. If the actions of the Prime Minister and this government were as egregious to him as he outlined, why did his party not stand fully and squarely opposed to us in terms of our throne speech and our budget this year?
    He talked about the Afghanistan issue. Liberals said during the months of January and February that the Afghanistan committee would not reconvene. Can he explain why it was reconvened? In fact, it was the first committee to reconvene after Parliament returned in March. Can he explain why that happened?
    If the Liberal Party believes that this minority government is so egregious, why has it continued to allow this government to operate? Perhaps he can explain the situation with respect to the refugee reform bill. Our minister and our government thought that we had the support of the Liberals on that after accepting 80% of their amendments. Instead, they changed their position, so we in fact worked with the Bloc Québécois and the NDP. We appreciate their support for that bill.
    Can he address all of those issues for me here this afternoon?
    Mr. Speaker, if the hon. member checks the record with regard to those issues, he will see that I did vote against it at that time, and with great conviction.
    Mr. Speaker, to follow up on the government member's question, if the Liberal members disagree with the government's programs so much, why do they continue to keep them in power by holding enough of their members out in terms of these crucial budget votes? Why have they essentially voted with the Conservatives almost 100 times already?
    Mr. Speaker, I just mentioned that I did not vote for them. There was a speech made earlier by one of the member's colleagues. He talked about fake lakes and fake motions. I would add a third: fake indignation. That is exactly the word we are looking for.
     Let us cast our memories back to last fall for just one moment. We put a motion in the House. We expressed consent. We asked for consent from the House. We just did not like the way the government direction was going. We asked them to show no faith in this particular government. We asked them to show no confidence in the government, and therefore, the vote was had.
    They, of course, supported themselves. We decided that we had no confidence in the government. The Bloc decided that they too had no confidence in the government. Here is the best part. Here is the punchline. At the very end, when the vote was for no confidence, this proverbial tumbleweed ran right through the House of Commons. We were waiting. The new expression became, “There is an APB on the NDP.”
     For goodness' sake, where did they go? We looked. We cast across the way, and all of a sudden we could not find them. All of a sudden, the strength and backbone with which they stood against the government collapsed. An entire team of paleontologists stood outside this room looking for this particular species that lost its backbone so quickly they created a whole new class of invertebrates. It was unbelievable. It happened right before our eyes.
    There is a fake lake. Maybe this is a fake motion. I do not think so, but there is the fake indignation we always get, and it is about time they were called on it.


    Mr. Speaker, when I first saw this motion, I thought maybe there had been a huge mistake. It is asking for a special committee of the House to be established to undertake an immediate study of all relevant issues pertaining to prorogation. The procedure and House affairs committee has been studying this for the last number of weeks, if not months.
    The colleague's own members, including the deputy whip, the whip, and the deputy House leader, are all on that committee. They ask for a report by June 23. How seriously should we be taking this motion when it contains those kinds of blatant errors?
    Mr. Speaker, my hon. colleague may want to check up on the latest amendment because we are talking about November now. However, what bothers me in this House is that for the sake of, I mentioned faked indignation, my goodness, but let us talk about the fact that we should be raising the bar here. This situation requires the expediency of the process and therefore what the motion does is it allows us to get to this faster. We get to the bottom of it. This issue of prorogation is one that is sincere. I am sure members know what I am talking about.
    Mr. Speaker, before turning to the remarks I have prepared, I have to offer a brief editorial comment on what just transpired. The novelty of watching a Liberal member attack the New Democrats for lack of backbone given, in this Parliament, the voting records of the two parties and the level of consistency, or indeed of ability to turn up for votes in the House.
    The fact is that one of those parties has been consistent and one has been, put honestly, very hard to figure out exactly what it stands for. Anyone other than the member would have no trouble distinguishing which of the two parties actually has had a backbone in this place.
    I want to pick up where my colleague, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons left off. He had quite a bit of fun dealing with the fact that the motion proposed by the Liberals today is so obviously, indeed comically, redundant. I will not go through all the things he pointed to, but the motion, at least in its unamended form, calls for a deadline and report back to the House six days from now, deals with subject matter which is being looked at extensively by a sitting committee, and seems to have been put forward without any actual re-reading of its content and the datedness of its content by the Liberal House leader who put it forward.
    I want to take some time today to talk about the rest of the Liberal motion because it is a very lengthy motion and contains in addition to a call for a new special committee reporting back on June 23 and then adjusted to November 2. It also calls for particular attention to be devoted to a proposal put forward several months ago by the Liberal leader. I will come back to that in a second.
    Looking at that, the first thought that occurs to me is that when it comes to putting forward a motion on this subject and trying to claim leadership on the issue, a candid observer would say that the horse has really left the barn on this one.
    The House did vote on March 17 on a motion put forward by the leader of the New Democratic Party, the member for Toronto—Danforth, on this very subject. I will read the wording of the motion:
    That, in the opinion of the House, the Prime Minister shall not advise the Governor General to prorogue any session of any Parliament for longer than seven calendar days without a specific resolution of this House of Commons to support such a prorogation.
    Just to be clear about this, I actually voted against the motion. The record will reflect that. However, it actually passed 139 to 135 votes and that includes a good number of Liberals. So I am a bit at a loss as to why, having dealt with the subject matter in this way, a different and really, if we get into the meat of it, a contradictory motion would then come forward.
    It is not just a motion about studying prorogation, it is studying it, and taking into account and giving a special privileged place to another motion which could have been brought forward by the Liberals, but they chose not to bring forward. That is a vexed question.
    It does point out something interesting. On the first available opportunity to deal with this issue, the New Democrats on their very first opposition day brought it forward. The Liberals, on their very last opposition day, are bringing it forward and one cannot help but think they just did not have anything else in their quiver they could haul out and in an act of desperation or absent-mindedness, they reached in and pulled this out, and produced it to deal with an issue which at the very least would not involve them taking a position on anything new. I think that is a fair comment, although it may seem a little tough.
    There is a second problem, which is the presupposition that the Liberal leader's proposal is one that ought to be privileged, put ahead of others. Remember this is a series of proposals that he developed prior to the hearings that have taken place in the procedure and House affairs committee. We ought now to take this and essentially take his proposals and use them to supercede all the information that has been gathered by all the parties.


    I might just take a moment to read what is the meat of this motion. Again, a special committee is called for to engage in a study, and then:
--that, as a part of this study, the committee take into account the specific proposals for new rules pertaining to prorogation offered by the Leader of the Opposition, including: (a) a requirement that the Prime Minister give Parliament written notice in advance of any request to prorogue, together with his/her reasons therefore; (b) a requirement that there be a debate in the House of Commons after any such notice is given, but before any request for prorogation is made; (c) a requirement that the express consent of the House of Commons be obtained at the conclusion of any such debate if (i) fewer than 12 months have passed since the last Speech from the Throne, (ii) the requested prorogation is for a period of more than 30 days, or (iii) an issue of confidence is outstanding before the House; and (d) a provision that allows committees of Parliament to continue to function during any prorogation;--
    So, that is the substance of it.
    Two things strike me about this. First, we have been engaged in a lengthy study for several months now in the procedure and House affairs committee and, as the member for Hamilton Centre has observed, it is been a very fruitful discussion.
     This effectively says, let us reset the clock to the Leader of the Opposition's proposals, as if we had not moved beyond that point through the work of members of all parties and of many Canadian constitutional experts coming forward and presenting thoughts on the various aspects and considerations for taking into account on prorogation. That is the first thing.
    Second, the people who have been submitting testimony to this committee, and there are some very impressive individuals, I will name some of them in a moment, have taken the time to go back and examine the various proposals that have been put forward, both the Leader of the Opposition's proposal, the one that was actually passed in the House of Commons in March, and others that were booted at the time that the prorogation was under way and in its aftermath, and have come back with comments on these things.
    So, there is already a considerable body of commentary on what the Liberal leader has proposed and some pretty fair criticisms of it.
    All of this is ignored and a fairly arrogant assertion is made that we ought to reset the clock and go back and take these ex cathedra pronouncements of the Liberal leader as being, not really our starting point, but as our presupposed finishing point, which is something that, I think, speaks very strongly to arrogance. The preordained conclusions are certainly one thing to think about.
    I want to turn now to the proposed special committee and the amendment that was rushed through by the Liberal deputy leader, I think, after the Liberals realized that they had goofed in putting this motion forward.
    She proposed several things. First, there would be a delay of the date to November 2. Obviously, June 23 is just preposterous. However, November 2 is, again as my colleague from Hamilton Centre has noted, itself a problematic date in that it is conceivable that our committee will not have reported back by that time.
    If it has reported back by that time, the report is likely to have been so freshly done that there would not be time to create the new committee, have it engage in anything, in any work at all other than, I suppose, to agree to adopt the testimony of the previous committee into its records. So, we would have essentially a make-believe committee or, certainly, an extraneous committee producing a report after really no consideration whatsoever.
    There is a second interesting possibility. Perhaps given the short timeline, and this is not such a danger. However, if this committee were actually to meet and had enough time to conduct its own hearings all over again, the possibility would exist, in fact, I think the possibility is highly likely, that the committee would come to some different conclusions, unless it simply produces a report to the House that says, “We endorse everything the last committee said”. Maybe they can just have a report that just says, “What he said--”
    Mr. Scott Reid: Or ditto, yes.
    “--about the previous committee, the committee on procedure and House Affairs”.
    But assuming that this does not happen, assuming that it is a different set of recommendations, we now have a problem. The House is now faced with, not one, but two committees which both have, although perhaps different cross-sections, a majority of their membership reporting back with two different sets of conclusions and to the degree they are different, they are necessarily in conflict.


    What do we do? Do we adopt one? Do we adopt the other? I am not sure how one would engage a concurrence debate in the House. It would certainly be interesting to deal with that, but it is hard to see how this improves anything.
    Finally, I have one last point. I will just note that in her haste to put together some amendment, any amendment, to make it appear that the Liberals actually have some kind of plan at all, other than simply to avoid talking about any actual issue or at least any actual policy proposal, the Liberal deputy House leader produced a proposal for a committee which will have 11 members instead of the normal 12 who are assigned for special committees.
    This is as a result of a negotiation that took place among all the House leaders at which she was present. We would always have 12 members for our special committees, and the reason for that was to ensure that we would not find the situation in which, if it is chaired by an opposition member, a tie vote would be cast between the government members and the opposition members. That is not an accurate reflection of the actual makeup of the House, but in their haste to put this together, she seems to have overlooked that point, and I think it once again points to the panic that the Liberals were in as they pulled together this amendment to their own motion.
    Let me talk a little bit about the experts we have heard from. They are a very impressive cross-section of Canadian academia and the constitutional experts who have dealt with this problem and the surrounding issues dealing with Canada's unwritten constitution, that part of the constitution which we have inherited from Great Britain, the powers of the Governor General, the conventions regarding the advice that is given to the Governor General by the Prime Minister, and the conventions regarding where else the Governor General can turn, not for advice in the formal sense, advice meaning effectively instruction in the formal constitutional sense, but rather for other opinions and perspectives. This includes people who have served as advisers to Her Excellency and Her Excellency's predecessors on various political issues in the past.
    For example, we have heard from Patrick Monahan, a very distinguished scholar who has advised Her Excellency in the past; Peter Russell, emeritus professor, who likewise has served as a vice-regal adviser. We heard from Nelson Wiseman, who has written extensively on these matters; from Thomas Hall, a former Clerk of the House, who had some very insightful comments; Bradley Miller, who presented to us just two days ago and who has written on the specific issue of conventions. That is the unwritten but generally accepted rules that govern us under the Westminster system. Andrew Heard talked to us, and we could go on.
    I will note that as recently as last week, we came to an agreement to invite Professor Hogg to come back and testify before us. Inevitably that will be this autumn. Professor Hogg has also been an adviser to the Governor General and is one of Canada's leading constitutional authorities. As early as last week, the presupposition from the Liberals was that this committee would be meeting and continuing its hearings in the autumn. We will not have gotten to the point where we will sit down, collate the information and try to actually produce the report. We would still be conducting hearings in the autumn.
    As befits any hearings into as serious and technically complicated a matter as this, it cannot be done quickly or easily. All of these factors show, first, good work is being done by the current committee and therefore there is no need to supercede it; second, it is just silly to talk about superceding it or replacing it; and third, I think they speak to the main theme that I am addressing today, which is just the disorganization and confusion of the Liberals.
    Although the Liberals may not have thought it themselves overtly, I think in their heart of hearts they are starting to come to the conclusion that they really are no longer the natural governing party of Canada, a party that is capable of governing a country. They are really an opposition party that just opposes for the sake of generating attention to themselves, and they have done this without unfortunately having taken the steps that are necessary to be an effective opposition at the level of ideas.
    I think there is a role for parties that are in opposition that do not have a real expectation of forming a government. I, myself, was a member of such a party back in the early days of the Reform Party when we did not think we would be forming the government in any immediate point in the future, but we did believe that we could intelligently and effectively advocate ideas. The Liberals have not quite mastered that yet.


     I would suggest there is a long history of the CCF that Liberal members could examine which might guide them in this matter. I would suggest they start with comprehensible proposals like the one the leader of the NDP moved back in March, rather than incomprehensible ones such as the one the opposition leader moved. I would suggest they develop ideas and they stick to those ideas consistently and then perhaps they can serve that role.
     If the Liberals want to demonstrate that they are capable of governing, which is a legitimate role they had in the past, then they have to start showing that they can conduct themselves in a businesslike manner. They certainly have demonstrated quite the opposite here.
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague takes these kinds of issues very seriously. He reads about and is informed on a lot of constitutional issues.
    My colleague mentioned Nelson Wiseman as perhaps being a witness at the committee that he attends. Mr. Wiseman of the University of Toronto has said that no Canadian prime minister has abused the prorogation power to the extent that the current Prime Minister has. He has quoted Canada's pre-eminent parliamentary expert, Senator Eugene Forsey, as having said:
    An unwanted and uncalled-for prorogation [is] a usurpation of the rights of the House of Commons, a travesty of democracy and a subversion of the constitution. Prorogation is more than mere delay for it prevents the House from voting, holding the government to account and possibly bringing it down.
    Does my colleague agree with that quote? Does he believe that the Prime Minister was right to prorogue Parliament?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague referenced Nelson Wiseman referencing Eugene Forsey. I think that Eugene Forsey was speaking hypothetically about prorogation. He dealt in more concrete detail with a separate issue, an abuse of prime ministerial power, which did take place in 1926 when the prime minister of the day, Mackenzie King, sought to avoid dealing with a crisis in the House by seeking a dissolution, a somewhat different situation.
    With regard to the Prime Minister's use of prorogation, there were only two prorogations actually. There was the one that took place at the end of 2008 which resulted in a new throne speech in early 2009. There was the later prorogation that took place on December 30, 2009, resulting in a throne speech earlier this year in March.
    Yes, I do think both of those uses of prorogation were legitimate, and I want to point out to my hon. colleague that he thinks they were legitimate too. He may speak against them, but the fact is that he and his party had the chance to demonstrate their lack of confidence in a government that would use prorogation in the manner it was used by voting non-confidence in the government and forcing an election at that time. His party did not do that. It is always an option at the end of any prorogation in a minority Parliament.
    I would simply point out that his party supports the government when the rubber hits the road and members of his party think this is a legitimate use of prorogation too. If they did not, we would have had an election on not one but two occasions.


    Mr. Speaker, I have enjoyed listening to the comments by my colleague from Lanark—Frontenac—Lennox and Addington, who sits on the committee that is dealing with prorogation. People can see where we completely disagree on some fundamentals about prorogation, but on the process, I believe we are like-minded.
    There have been other comments by other members. Can the hon. member recall even one occasion when the Liberal members on the committee expressed any kind of concern whatsoever that the work we were doing was not adequate, was not fulsome, that the mandate was not big enough, that the committee was not working? Does he recall any comments at all from the Liberals about the conduct and the ongoing business of the committee already seized with the issue of prorogation?
    Mr. Speaker, the short answer is no, but of course I do not want to stop there.
    I want to point out that the Liberals have been participating like all of us. It has actually been a useful, fruitful discussion. Not only have the members been working in a very co-operative manner, but the academic experts who have been involved have been reading the testimony at committee and coming back and commenting on it. We have invited experts who have come before us to continue to submit written submissions and they have been doing so. That all indicates that the work of the committee is very sound indeed. I would encourage anybody to read the work of the committee.
    I want to point out one interesting thing, though. My hon. colleague might have missed a comment made at about 11:16 this morning--actually, he did not; it was an answer by the Liberal House leader to a question he had asked. She said that she is not concerned that the work of the committee is not broad enough, on the contrary, the problem is it is too broad.
     She said that the work the committee has done deals only with an aspect of the prorogation; it does not deal at all with the other aspects of the Liberal motion, the pre-existing Liberal motion, the one that the Leader of the Opposition put forward that, essentially, we have a preordained conclusion we would like to arrive at, and those guys are wandering away from it. That is why I read that. They are wandering away from a preordained conclusion, and based on, heaven forbid, expert testimony, they would like to drag them back to that.
    I think that is the fundamental problem with this motion.
    Mr. Speaker, for my constituents, accountability is the principle issue.
    There is this view that the government has used the prorogation instrument to duck accountability. As a further example, in my own committee, the ethics committee, we have a situation where people have been summoned to appear before the committee by actual summonses because they refused to appear on invitation. The government has put forward in a ministerial statement that ministers are accountable and should be answerable and therefore they will appear at committees in place of those people.
    When the law clerk appeared before our committee yesterday, he made it very clear that is correct on matters of policy, and sometimes on matters of administration. However, when it comes to accountability of persons and the government and to ducking accountability, when some person other than a minister is involved in an allegation of wrongdoing of the laws, that is the person whom the committee has to see. That person would be the only one who would know the facts and the only one who would be able to help the committee do its work.


    Mr. Speaker, I had the honour of sitting as a member of the ethics committee under the member's chairmanship in the summer of 2008 when the committee had special hearings into the in-and-out scandal, a scandal of profound proportions, one that was going to destroy Canadian democracy because the Conservative Party had illegally spent over its limit.
    Those members wanted to bring forward witnesses. Witnesses were abused. The chairman refused to allow any witness to come forward from the Conservative side, anybody suggested by the Conservatives, but allowed every single witness on the Liberal list. As far as I could see, he certainly stretched the rules to the breaking point.
    Then, as it turns out in court, a real court, not the kangaroo court the member was conducting, the Conservative Party was not only cleared, but in fact costs were awarded to it from the Elections Canada side that was involved in the litigation against the Conservative Party.
    The point I want to make in responding to the member is that I sat in on those meetings. If anybody wants to find out what I think of that chairman's role in chairing that committee, it is a matter of public record and is in the committee Hansard.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member not only for his excellent speech but for how he has been answering the questions. He has been very clear. His knowledge is always something that adds to these debates. I want to take this opportunity to thank him.
    Are there any situations in the past, historically perhaps, with the Liberal Party where prorogation was used that he might want to bring forward and explain its relevance to the House?
    Mr. Speaker, I think the references being made here are to a couple of prorogations by former Prime Minister Jean Chrétien. I cannot remember the exact dates, but he certainly prorogued Parliament in order to achieve other policy goals.
    The fact is that prorogation in this country has evolved in a somewhat different direction from the way it has evolved in some other Commonwealth countries. That does not make our use of the system any better or worse. It is very healthy to have a discussion thereon to determine what the conventions ought to be here as opposed to elsewhere.
    I will make the obvious point about prorogation in the context of minority governments. If we are talking about prorogation, for example, in the context of an ethics committee that wants to continue operating during the summer months, where the goal is to drag in government members or supporters to humiliate and embarrass them and ask them atrocious questions and deny them of all normal procedural restraints, this never occurs in a majority government. It was never faced by any of the previous majority governments under Prime Minister Chrétien, Prime Minister Trudeau, and others, because they were effectively elected dictators and they controlled the committees.
    We should keep the perspective here that the abuse of power that has existed in the past with the Liberals, and I am willing to concede with the Conservatives as well, has taken place normally in the context of majority governments. In this case, the tyranny of the majority is being exercised by opposition committees, led in some cases by members who are present in the House at this very moment.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this issue.
    Prorogation became a bit of a household word in Canada this year. It was not a term that was familiar to a great many Canadians, but this year it became familiar to them. They made a point of understanding what was going on.
    My colleague, who just spoke, mentioned two prorogations in the last two years. In fact, we have had three in three years. However, the one in 2007 was what one might call a normal prorogation, where toward the end of the summer, the government decided that instead of coming back in September, we would come back in October. Oppositions do not like that, but they understand that this happens on occasion. However, this year and last year, there were two very controversial uses of this blunt instrument. Canadians were outraged. There was a positive side effect to this, which was that Canadians became engaged.
    I am splitting my time, Mr. Speaker, with the member for York West.
    Canadians became very outraged and that is a good thing. They became involved. We had rallies around the country. I can recall a very cold day in Halifax, being at a rally with other members of Parliament, labour unions and people who were interested. There was a huge crowd that came out to express their concerns. It generated a lot of interest and a lot of anger. This is an issue about democracy.
    Canadians may not love their politicians. We know, in general, they do not, but they do expect them to go to work both at home and in Ottawa. We all know there is work to be done at home. There is no question about that, but we follow a schedule that demands that members of Parliament be in Ottawa. This is where the elected voice of Canadians have a chance to impact on public policy, on the comings and goings of the nation, and it is important.
    We had heard from some people on the government's side that the prorogation was a normal course of events. We know it was not. I have already referenced Nelson Wiseman from the University of Toronto, who has said that no Canadian prime minister had abused this prorogation power to the extent that the current Prime Minister has. He quoted Senator Eugene Forsey, whom I quoted earlier, who had said:
—an unwanted and uncalled-for prorogation a usurpation of the rights of the House of Commons, a travesty of democracy and a subversion of the constitution.
    Another great Canadian, whom I do not always agree with but I always read, is Jeffrey Simpson, and he wrote, on January 25:
    A prime minister has his forums, of which Parliament is only one. He has cabinet, caucus, and a public platform each and every time he speaks, here and abroad. Parliament, however, is the platform of every point of view from those who have been elected, and the place where, however imperfectly, the government is held to account.
    That makes a lot of sense.
    There is no question of why Parliament was prorogued. It was a difficult time for the government. The issue of the Afghan detainees was to be studied in committees and the government wanted to shut it down. We know that.
    Arthur Kent, who is the brother of a member of the Prime Minister's cabinet, was quoted as saying:
—there has been an unwritten fatwa maintained by the Prime Minister’s Office against discussion of any and all controversial aspects of the Afghan debacle...if [the Prime Minister] is uncomfortable with democracy, he should quit his job.
    That is good advice and his brother ought to listen to him.
    Tom Flanagan, a former campaign manager, said on TV, “Everybody knows that Parliament was prorogued in order to shut down the Afghan inquiry”.
    The reason this was done this year was to shut down something that was uncomfortable for the government. The year before, it was to avoid a vote of non-confidence. Canadians have voiced their concerns about that.
    Why does it really matter? It matters because it is about democracy. It is about a country like Canada, the traditions that make Canada great, that listens to opposition. I contend that the government not only does not want to listen to them, but does not want them to even speak, to even have a voice.
    The Prime Minister has been compared on occasion to former president George Bush. I do not think that is accurate. He is more likely and favourably compared to Richard Nixon, where politics trumps everywhere and politics is all that matters. Richard Nixon had his famous enemies list. Dangerous people such as Paul Newman and Mickey Mouse were put on this enemies list and other people had their taxes audited and everything else. In Canada we have an enemies list too of the Prime Minister. I could name all the people who have been shut out by the government, but I only have 10, so I will mention a couple of them.
    I want to talk about KAIROS, CCIC and CCL. KAIROS and CCIC are two great voices of international development that for many years have represented a Canadian view on international development, sometimes agreeing with governments, sometimes not.


    KAIROS and the rebel organizations that are affiliated with it, like the Catholic Church and Presbyterian Church, were defunded in December, totally caught off guard for no reason whatsoever. CCIC and Gerry Barr, who was very highly regarded nationally as well as internationally, have been told they are also in peril.
    The Canadian Council on Learning was set up in 2004 to be the voice of Canada when it came to evaluating how we were doing on educating our citizens, a five year program, easily renewable. The government and the Minister of Human Resources have even indicated in committee and in a letter to CCL that CCL is doing great work. The minister speaks often about the need for us to do an inventory of skills in Canada.
     How are we doing on post-secondary education? How are we doing on early learning and child care? How are we doing on adult literacy and workplace training? These are very important issues. This was what CCL did. CCL did this with all of the provinces in Canada. CCL had the respect of all international partners. It had the respect of the universities, the community colleges, the students groups, the professors and the researchers in Canada. It was told its funding would not continue. It makes no sense whatsoever.
    The government has said that it needs more information, yet it has shut down an organization that provides the very information it says it needs and has left nothing in its place. It said that it would get rid of CCL because it made two mistakes. It was originally funded by a Liberal government and it was doing good work, which is unacceptable to the government. It shut it down, but said that it needed the work CCL had done, but it needed a bit of time to get it going. Does that make any sense? I do not think so. It could not even continue the funding that it had.
    Prime ministers leave legacies whether they want to or not. Pierre Trudeau brought us the Constitution Act of 1982. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms brought Canada to a very important place internationally. We are respected in this world and understood for the values we project abroad.
     Brian Mulroney did work on apartheid in South Africa. He brought us free trade and the GST. Some may like it and some may not, but in many ways, it transformed the Canadian economy. Mr. Mulroney was a respected international leader.
    Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin got the books of Canada in order after a generation or more of them being out of order. They brought Canadians together. They made commitments to Africa. The G20 exists today in large part because of Paul Martin, supported Jean Chrétien.
     Those are legacies that people leave.
    The current Prime Minister is working on his legacy. When we look back on the work of the government, we will say that the government took one of the world's great democracies and ripped it apart. It is dismantling our social infrastructure, shutting out dissent, shutting out voices and shutting down Parliament.
    I think it was Winston Churchill who said, “Democracy is the worst form of government in the world, except for all the rest”. It is a messy process. When we encourage people to come in and when we listen to people, that is important and that is democracy. Governments in the past, whether it was Mr. Mulroney's or Mr. Chrétien's, had all kinds of non-governmental organizations and lots of civil society organizations who they did not agree with and who spoke out loud and clear against government policy.
    We did not defund them or shut them down. Whether one agrees with a government or not, those voices need to be heard. Democracy is about those voices. This is part of the same continuum that allows the Prime Minister to shut down Parliament when it becomes inconvenient. In many ways, it is the Prime Minister's inconvenient truth that he does not like democracy. He loves power, but he hates government.
    In order to have government and democracy, we need voices. We need voices outside Parliament and inside Parliament. When we shut down those voices, we shut down the ability of Canadians to have input into their government. In my view, what the government has done is wrong and it needs to be fixed.


    Mr. Speaker, I thought it was interesting how my hon. colleague used former prime ministers and their legacies in his speech. He talked a lot about democracy. This morning in committee, a witness was before us, Mr. Jaffer, who chastised the government on that very same thing. He was a former caucus cheerer of the Conservative government. He, again, admonished the government for being undemocratic.
    I thought it was very interesting that my colleague wove within his speech evidence of how undemocratic the government had been and the serious challenges to Canada that this had caused.
    Could my hon. colleague elaborate a bit more on what he thinks the legacy of the Conservative government will be? Clearly, he thinks it will be proven to be the most undemocratic government in terms of prorogation and closing down debate on things. What else would he like to add to that?
    Mr. Speaker, my colleague from St. John's South—Mount Pearl mentioned Mr. Jaffer who was part of the government's legacy. I believe the biggest legacy will be how we have changed Canada in a way that Canadians do not want it to be changed and hopefully we will test that at the next election.
    The member talked about Mr. Jaffer. Some of his former colleagues have said some interesting things. The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism was quoted as saying about prorogation, “As a minister, I often get more done when the House is not in session”. That tells us something about what listening is done when the government is here.
    I like another quote from one of the government members who said, “If we are sitting, how do MPs get to...the Olympic games. It makes sense that we are not sitting”. If there is one thing every Canadian from coast to coast to coast can agree with, is the last thing we need at the Olympics is more politicians. We did not need to be prorogued so we could go to the Olympics or so the government could recalibrate. We needed to be prorogued so the government could shut down voices of dissent with which it disagreed.


    Mr. Speaker, I have great respect for my colleague from Dartmouth—Cole Harbour. Since he had all the quotes close at hand of other members, when he rises to answer my question, could he quote either himself or other members on how they vehemently objected in the House when the prime ministers he sat under repeatedly prorogued the House? Could he share some of those comments so we could see some continuity in their righteous indignation regarding this?
    Mr. Speaker, I was not in the House or in the gallery when that may have happened. The government said that this was always happening under the former government. However, all the constitutional experts like Nelson Wiseman have said that no Canadian prime minister has abused the prorogation power to the extent the current Prime Minister has.
    We already indicated there was a prorogation in 2007, before 2008 and 2009. We had three in three years. The first though was what might be called a normal prorogation. There are certain times when the House prorogues and everyone says that makes sense. The government may need to recalibrate because it has new ministers, or maybe there is a meeting the prime minister has to attend. Those are normal in the course of events.
    What happened in the last two years were attempts to divert attention away from the government or to deliberately contravene democracy in the House. That is a very different use of prorogation than has been used in the past.
    Mr. Speaker, I want to render homage to the member's father who was a premier of Nova Scotia and who stood up to the public and listened to the people in some very hard times, but he never ignored them. The Prime Minister is the prime minister of prorogation, but he is also the Prime Minister of fake public events, which bar the public from getting access to be in front of their Prime Minister when announcements are made.
    How fake is it for a prime minister to avoid the public? The member's father did not.
    Mr. Speaker, that is one of the greatest questions I have heard in my short time in the House. I agree with him completely and I look forward to discussing it with him when the CFL plays its first ever regular season football game in Moncton in the fall.
     He is entirely right and I commend him on the questions he asked yesterday about how the government was playing politics with announcements in New Brunswick.
    Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to join this debate and to follow my very esteemed colleague from Dartmouth who has proven himself so very well here in the House of Commons.
    I thank the House for the opportunity to speak today in favour of the motion which would, if enacted, help to restore an element of democracy clearly missing here in the House.
    I have had the privilege of sitting in the House now for more than a decade but the past four years have shown me just how fragile democracy really is, especially when placed in the hands of someone who has little regard for the will of the people or for alternative points of view.
    Despite being elected on platform of openness and transparency, the Conservatives have proven themselves to be anything but open and transparent. They have also proven that they will shamelessly use every trick or tactic possible to press through their agenda, regardless of the consequences for the nation as a whole.
    The government has fired independent officers of Parliament for simply disagreeing with its policies. It has dismissed Canada's nuclear safety watchdog for suggesting that there might be some safety issues that need to be addressed. It has manipulated G8 and G20 summit budgets for obvious partisan purposes to the tune of more than a billion dollars. The billion dollar boondoggle is what it will go down as in our history books.
    Now we have learned from within the Conservative caucus that key ministers might be blocking certain public projects in the Maritimes because improving them might not serve their own narrow political interests. I say shame on that kind of action.
    Those are but a few examples but they do not speak to the larger my way or the highway approach to public administration that has been clearly adopted by the Conservatives. It is my way or the highway until the walls start to close in, and then, whenever the heat becomes unbearable or whenever the opposition parties have been pushed to the brink or whenever the systemic safeguards begin to react, the Prime Minister scurries to Rideau Hall and demands prorogation.
    Prorogation is a process that, when used in this manner, is tantamount to the schoolyard bully hiding behind the teacher's coattails, begging for an intervention after angry classmates have finally had enough.
    While prorogation allows the Prime Minister to sidestep Parliament, the one group of people he cannot fire, the Canadian people, have been busy watching with an ever-deteriorating level of patience.
    This was made very clear during the Prime Minister's most recent recalibration, as he called it, during the first few weeks of 2010. Canadians saw his actions for what they really were and they sent the Prime Minister a strong and undeniable signal: stop abusing the authority vested in the PMO and get to work.
    Unlike how it is currently being used, prorogation is a parliamentary tool that has historically been used to clear the desks, refocus the government's agenda and even to respond to looming national issues that arise without prior warning.
    The Prime Minister's most recent parliamentary shutdown lasted 63 days after a session of 128 days in length. Since 1964, prorogations have lasted 12 days on average and parliamentary sessions have averaged 187 days. I would submit that prorogation is a valid parliamentary mechanism that has served a purpose in the past but I would suggest that the current Prime Minister missed that day when he was learning through the orientation.
    Because of these facts, I have no hesitation in saying that I support this motion and that from time to time governments of all stripes have needed to use prorogation for these legitimate purposes. However, since the current Prime Minister has sat upon his throne, prorogation has morphed into a mechanism of suppression, not only for members of Parliament but for all Canadians.
    To find a precedent for such abuses of power, we have to reach all the way back to 1873 when John A. Macdonald tried to stop Parliament from probing his railway scandal. To me, it seems as though, whenever the current government finds itself in a tight spot, it pulls the plug on the people's House so as to avoid the oversight that can and should be provided by Parliament.


    At first I wondered if the flagrant misuse of prorogation was the result of the total lack of understanding as to the traditions of Parliament, the practice and procedures normally used in a parliamentary system of government. However, as the obfuscation and democratic disregard continued to grow, it became apparent that the government knew quite well that it was violating the spirit of democracy that it had previously so vigorously promised to uphold.
    It is for those very reasons that I am now in the category of people who believe that, due to the repeated abuse of prorogation by the Prime Minister, controls must be implemented if unfettered democracy is to again appear in this wonderful chamber of ours. The Liberal motion before the House today strives to do just that.
    The motion would permit the Prime Minister to use prorogation subject to the House's oversight for the purpose for which it was intended but would impose real controls against abuse of power.
    For example, the motion would impose “a requirement that the Prime Minister give Parliament written notice in advance of any request to prorogue, together with his/her reasons therefore”. Who could possibly object to that? It sounds like a normal practice that should happen. If all members felt Parliament should prorogue, then we would all vote in favour of it.
    All that is being asked is that the Prime Minister not pull the rug out from under the House without a valid reason. Imagine what the real impact would be? Had Parliament not been closed down for two months at the beginning of 2010, we could have actually given thoughtful consideration to the pardons bill that the government has now demanded we pass immediately with no discussion and, if we do not pass it, we will be criticized for not doing so.
    I understand that the parties have now reached a deal on this matter but that is only because the opposition parties were willing to collaborate on behalf of all Canadians. The deal certainly says nothing to the government's ability to plan ahead, as we have clearly seen in the boondoggle with the G8-G20 summit, and to proactively manage the nation's business or co-operate with other elected officials.


    It being 2 o'clock, I need to interrupt the member. She will have three minutes remaining when the House returns to this matter.


[Statements by Members]


The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico painfully illustrates the high price of fossil fuels. These fuels are increasingly costly and difficult to extract. It is urgent that we transition to cleaner forms of energy.
    That is why I commend the government's efforts through the clean energy dialogue and I encourage the government to accelerate these efforts and negotiate a Canada-U.S. climate change treaty with the Obama administration.
    A Canada-U.S. climate change treaty would allow us, as North Americans, to lead the world at the UN climate change summit in Mexico this November and would greatly increase the likelihood of a legally binding global treaty.
    Global and local actions are necessary.
    That is why I also commend the village of Eden Mills in Ontario for going carbon neutral and for being a national Hometown Heroes award finalist sponsored by Cascades and the Royal Bank.
    The gulf disaster shows that we need to act quickly and we need to act now.

Robert Bruce Salter

    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to remember Dr. Robert Bruce Salter, a world-renowned orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Sick Children, who passed away peacefully on May 10 with his family by his side.
    I will briefly highlight some of his extraordinary accomplishments. He developed a procedure to correct congenital dislocation of the hip. The pioneered continuous passive motion for the treatment of joint injuries. He wrote a textbook of orthopedic surgery called Textbook of Disorders and Injuries of the Musculoskeletal System, which is used worldwide.
    He was an inductee into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, a Companion of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Order of Ontario.
    While one of the best and most respected orthopedic surgeons in the world, he just wanted to be remembered as a surgeon who treated children.
    I hope everyone in this House will join me in remembering this remarkable man.


Ginette Lamoureux

    Mr. Speaker, today I would like to highlight the 20 years that a woman in my riding, Ginette Lamoureux, has been involved in Regroup'elles, an organization providing assistance to women who are victims of domestic violence.
    Ms. Lamoureux joined the Regroup'elles board of directors in 1990 and has been employed there since 1995. Now the director of the organization, she spearheaded the project to provide a shelter for women, seeing it through to completion two years ago. The organization already offered a telephone support service.
    A woman who does not sit back and wait for others to take action, Ms. Lamoureux is known and loved by everyone and has extraordinary energy and determination. I would like to thank her from the bottom of my heart for her dedication to women and also for the contribution she has made to our community.
    We thank Ginette, for these 20 years of service to women who are victims of domestic violence. Keep up the good work; they still need you. The whole community is indebted to her for the services she provides.


Stewart Memorial Church

    Mr. Speaker, throughout this year, the Stewart Memorial Church in my riding of Hamilton Centre will be celebrating its 175th anniversary.
    Founded in 1835 by fugitive slaves who came to Hamilton on the underground railroad, Stewart Memorial Church remains as one of the oldest predominantly black churches in Canada.
    Stewart Memorial has played a significant role in Hamilton's history as a centre for outreach and celebration and a positive force for change in our community. As a gathering place, it has brought people together for various events, and it remains an important institution in Hamilton's black community.
    On August 14 and 15, the church will be holding its homecoming 2010 celebrations, which will include a street festival, a cultural marketplace and music and dance performances. More information about the anniversary celebrations can be found at
    On behalf of all members, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to Stewart Memorial Church and wish it continued success for many years to come.

Justice Legislation

    Mr. Speaker, as the spring session of this House moves toward conclusion, I am relieved that this House has finally found a compromise on Bill C-23 to prevent dangerous offenders convicted of serious crimes from receiving pardons.
    However, I am convinced that the only reason such a compromise was reached was due to the outcry of thousands of Canadians and their many calls to many MPs' offices demanding immediate action.
    It is reassuring to know that members of the soft on crime coalition still occasionally listen to their constituents and act on their wishes.
    I hope that those members will pay similar attention to the express wishes of their constituents over the summer and that, come this fall, the soft on crime coalition will stop stalling important pieces of legislation, such as Bill C-4, which would make crucial amendments to the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
    I also trust that the 20 opposition members who voted in favour of Bill C-391 will be capable of applying that same democratic deference this fall and finally bring an end to a wasteful and ineffective long gun registry.


Cupids 400

    Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise in the House today and let everyone know about a time that is being held back home this year, with the premier events being held from August 17 to 22. We are celebrating one of the largest cultural events ever in Newfoundland and Labrador.
    Cupids, a wonderful town in my riding, was the site of the first English settlement established in Canada. Some 400 years ago John Guy and 39 men established Cupids as their home and set out to secure and make safe the trade of fishing.
    We are celebrating with over 50 events this year. There is a phenomenal summer schedule which on every day promotes traditional entertainment, archaeology and cultural significance and history through classical theatre.
    Just a few days ago I had the distinct pleasure to participate in the official laying of the keel to begin building a replica of John Guy's vessel The Indeavour in the community of Winterton.
    There is something for everyone and I encourage members to visit the Cupids 400 website at
    The events surrounding Cupids 400 will not have come together without the hard work of--
    The hon. member for Wetaskiwin.

Retirement Wishes

    Mr. Speaker, members all know the value of excellent staff who assist us daily in our duties as MPs. Staff come and go, but every so often one stands out and gives his or her all in supporting the MP.
    Today I rise to salute the career of one such employee. Maureen Laffin O'Brien has worked on Parliament Hill for almost 30 years as a legislative assistant.
     In 1981 she began her career working with Howard Crosby from Nova Scotia and remained with him for 12 years.
    In 1993 newly elected Dale Johnston was in need of a guiding hand and hired Maureen to get his Ottawa office up and running. It did not take Dale long to realize that Maureen was a keeper, knowing the ins and outs of Ottawa. She stayed with Dale, serving for his entire 12 years as a member, forging a lasting friendship along the way.
    In 2006 Maureen joined my office. She showed remarkable patience as I learned the ropes and has been a true friend and confidante since I arrived.
    I want to thank Maureen for her tireless work, keen political advice and years of loyal service. Her talent, wisdom and positive demeanour will be greatly missed on the Hill. Twenty-nine years with three MPs is remarkable.
    On behalf of all the staff, past and present, and everyone Maureen touched here on Parliament Hill, I would like to wish her good health and a happy and well-deserved retirement.


Maureen Forrester

    Mr. Speaker, star contralto Maureen Forrester died yesterday. Born in Montreal in 1930, she began her career in church choirs.
    She gave her debut concert in 1953 with the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, but it was not until a 1956 Carnegie Hall performance that her international career took off. She headlined in the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, France, England, Germany, Spain, Argentina, and many other countries. She was known for her perfect mastery of German pronunciation. She excelled in several musical styles, including classical, opera, musical comedy, burlesque and popular song.
    She also taught at the University of Toronto and chaired the vocal arts department of the Philadelphia Music Academy. She chaired the Canada Council for the Arts from 1983 to 1988.
    My Bloc Québécois colleagues and I extend our sincere condolences to her five children, her family and her friends.



    Mr. Speaker, farmers in my riding of Prince Albert and all across Saskatchewan are facing the worst flooding in decades. Up to 30% of the farmland may be left unseeded and farmers need help to get through these difficult times.
    Our government, working with the province, has extended agri-insurance deadlines twice to give farmers as much time as possible to get their crops in. If they cannot, crop insurance will pay out as soon as farmers make a claim.
    Greg Marshall, the president of the Agricultural Producers Association of Saskatchewan, or APAS, has praised this program saying, “We are pleased crop insurance is being flexible and extending these deadlines to help address the needs of producers”.
    Additionally, our second line of defence, agri-stability, will allow farmers to take out cash advances to help weather this storm.
    I would like to thank our Conservative government's Minister of Agriculture for travelling to Saskatchewan yesterday in order to make sure our programs give farmers the support they need.


Public Safety

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative chair of the public safety committee was forced to apologize for denigrating Canada's 450 chiefs of police after calling them “a cult”, and the Conservative assault on the integrity of our police forces continues.
    The Conservative MP for Saint Boniface unequivocally stated in committee, “There were officers who suffered consequences at the hands of chiefs like Mr. Blair, who transferred them when they spoke out...”.
    Absolutely no evidence to substantiate this serious allegation of witness intimidation and workplace harassment was ever provided by that MP, yet she refuses to retract or apologize for making this ruinous allegation.
    Parliamentary privilege is a tool to get at the truth of issues. However, when abused, it provides cover to the abuser, allowing the member for Saint Boniface to savage the good reputation of the chief.
    Does the Minister of Public Safety condone this attack on the chiefs of police or will he apologize to Toronto Chief of Police William Blair, who has an exemplary 33 year record of serving and protecting our citizenry?


Bloc Québécois

    Mr. Speaker, here is “The Bloc and the Quebecker”:

Having spent its time
Sitting on its thumbs,
The Bloc was glum
Now that summer had come.
Not one vote for Quebeckers
From this opportunistic, simplistic party.

When asked to explain
their raison d'être and justify their existence
Until the new session,
I'll tell you by August, said the Bloc,
Disinformation and pie in the sky,
That is what the Bloc lives by.

But the Quebecker is no fool,
That's what makes him so cool.

What did you do all that time?
He said to these freeloaders.

Week in and week out
We talked round about.

You talked? said the Quebecker to the Bloc.
Well, now start dancing!


Bombing of Air India Flight 182

    Mr. Speaker, next week will mark the 25th anniversary of the tragic Air India bombing in 1985 that killed 331 innocent men, women and children.
    Sadly, Canadians are still waiting for justice to be served, and the families of victims are still repairing deep emotional wounds and fractured home lives.
     Throughout almost two decades of stonewalling by the government, the victims' families have shown tremendous endurance, strength and courage. The onus is now on the federal government to ensure that a tragedy like this will never happen again.
    We hope the report brings peace and closure to the victims' families. We hope the guilty face justice. However, it will require government agencies to co-operate and share their information. Most importantly, this report must be scrutinized by Parliament and implemented as a priority to ensure that the government can prevent future attacks.
    I urge all Canadians to take a moment and reflect once again on one of Canada's most horrendous acts of violence. We join the families in support and solidarity as they continue to grieve and mourn the loss of their loved ones.

The Economy

    Mr. Speaker, despite opposition mudslinging and attempts to score cheap political points, our government remains focused on the economy.
    Canada's strong economic performance is a testament to the leadership of our Prime Minister and our Conservative government. Since July of last year, Canada has created almost 310,000 new jobs. With numbers like this, it is not surprising that the influential magazine, The Economist, recently called Canada “an economic star”.
    It is encouraging to see Canada's economy on the right track, thanks to our government's actions. Nonetheless the global recovery remains fragile. That is why we need to fully implement Canada's economic action plan.
    While our plan is helping Canada lead the way on jobs and growth, the Liberal leader's plan to raise taxes would halt our recovery in its tracks and kill almost 400,000 jobs.



Education for All

    Mr. Speaker, in 2000, 189 countries signed the Dakar Declaration and committed to achieving education for all by 2015. Taking advantage of this year's World Cup, UNESCO, supported by FIFA, has launched a campaign to rally public opinion on the importance of education.
    In Quebec, the Montreal Impact and the Institut de coopération pour l'éducation des adultes are running the 1GOAL: Education for All campaign. People all over the world must have access to education, which is why it is so important for the federal government to achieve its target of 0.7% of GDP for official development assistance. That is why I urge the people of Quebec to sign the petition: “Sign your name for those who can't”.
    I would also like to highlight the remarkable contribution of Pierre Martin, who passed away earlier this week. Mr. Martin took on a number of roles in Quebec's education department under Paul Gérin-Lajoie, and helped create Quebec's university network, which was designed to improve access to a university education.

Robert Middlemiss

    Mr. Speaker, today I want to honour the memory of a former Liberal member of the National Assembly of Quebec, Robert Middlemiss.
    Robert was a McGill University graduate and a geotechnical engineering consultant. He began his career in politics as a municipal councillor for the former city of Aylmer from 1970 to 1979.
    “Bob” was the MNA for Pontiac from 1981 to 2003. He served as the parliamentary assistant to the minister of the environment and to the minister of health and social services, later becoming minister responsible for agriculture, the fisheries, food, transport and public safety.
    We will miss his generosity, his dedication and his love for our region. We want to acknowledge his vision and his great determination to develop McConnell-Laramée Boulevard, which is now Allumettières Boulevard.
    I offer my deepest condolences to his wife Lorraine and his family.
    Bob, we thank you and we salute you.


Firearms Registry

    Mr. Speaker, the summer break is almost here and it is important to highlight that there are 20 opposition MPs who will have one very important question posed to them this summer by their constituents: How will they vote on Bill C-391?
    I encourage the eight Liberal and 12 NDP members of Parliament to spend their time away from Ottawa listening to their constituents, and when they return, to vote in favour of Bill C-391.
    Once again, I also ask that both the Liberal and NDP leaders do the right thing and allow all of their MPs to vote freely on this issue and have the ability to truly reflect their own beliefs and that of their constituents.
    It is time to end the wasteful and ineffective long gun registry. Canadians know this. They also know the choice is clear. Members should either vote to keep the long gun registry or vote to scrap it, as they did at second reading. It is that simple.
    The people they represent deserve to be heard.


[Oral Questions]


Air India

    Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Prime Minister about the Air India inquiry.
    First, I want to say very clearly that we commend the Government of Canada for having commissioned this inquiry and we commend the commissioner for his extraordinary work and his great diligence, and I am sure all Canadians stand in solidarity with the Air India families.


    But the question remains, and it is a difficult question for the Prime Minister. In his report, Commissioner Major criticized the complacent attitude of the agencies, even in speaking to the commission, concerning the problems that have not yet been resolved.
    What does the Prime Minister
    The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I would also like to thank the commissioner, Justice Major, for his report and for his dedication to a project that is so important to our country. The government launched this inquiry in order to get at the truth. Several aspects of the truth are very disturbing, and the government will take the appropriate action.


    Mr. Speaker, on page 146 of his report, the commissioner clearly states that there are still problems, even with some of the agencies' testimony before the commission. He discovered a sunny attitude that was not based on the facts or the reality. He clearly said that the commission took issue with that sunny attitude.
    What will the Prime Minister do to ensure that the attitude of those agencies changes—
    The right hon. Prime Minister.


    Mr. Speaker, I will repeat my earlier answer. We all thank Justice Major for his report and for his incredible devotion over, I think, the past three years in getting to the bottom of this and getting to the truth in this matter. I know it has very difficult for everyone involved.
    There is absolutely no doubt, in my own experience, that there was a lot of resistance to this inquiry. I think Justice Major made some reference to that fact and also to my interventions in that regard. The government will take those recommendations into consideration and ensure we drive forward with real change.
    Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the Prime Minister's answer but it has to be said that the commissioner takes the unusual step in his report of saying that even up to the point of the evidence presented by the government before the commission, even during the last two or three years, he did not detect a change of attitude on the part of those agencies, not only with respect to what had happened in 1985 and the years before and immediately after, but even up until today.
    There is a culture of complacency, which is dangerous for the country. I wonder if the Prime Minister can tell us what specific steps he intends to take to ensure—
    The right hon. Prime Minister.
    Mr. Speaker, I did have a good discussion with the families on that very subject today. It is very clear that this government intends there to be change, which is why we appointed the inquiry. Obviously, while we commit to moving forward on the recommendations, today is a day to think about the families and the loved ones who have been living with the deaths of these over 300 Canadians for a quarter of a century now.
    I am glad we are getting to the bottom of this and will be able to move forward but it is a reminder that we should never treat security lightly in this country.

G8 and G20 Summits

    Mr. Speaker, when next week's G8 summit starts, world leaders will not visit $50 million in unfinished mud parks, bridges, gazebos and a sunken boat paid for in their names. While world leaders cannot visit unfinished pork, tourists will not be going to Toronto. The U.S. just issued a travel advisory not to visit Toronto during the G8.
    At the height of the tourist season, Conservatives are shutting down Toronto.
    The Economist magazine is now calling the $1 billion in waste a “loonie boondoggle”. How much more of an international embarrassment can this get?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada is very proud to be hosting the G8 and G20 meetings. We have indicated that a large part of the costs associated with these meeting deal with security concerns. These concerns are legitimate and they are in line with what most consultants have indicated to us. We are looking forward to welcoming here in Canada the leaders from these countries, as well as all of their delegations.
    Mr. Speaker, he should tell that to the 78% of Canadians who think the spending is out of control.
    Here is the problem. The Conservatives approved $50 million in projects under the banner of the G8 that have zero to do with the summit. This is not a gazebo and ice rink sales convention. It is a world leaders' meeting on international debt.
    I am not talking about the $500,000 the Conservatives spent on the bunny hop trail or the $50 million and other pork shoved into the minister's riding. I am talking about this G8 legacy fund, a bonus $50 million for the minister in the name of the summit that has nothing to do with the summit at all.
    How do they justify this?


    Mr. Speaker, the government has done some 12,000 infrastructure projects in every corner of the country.
     We have two major goals as part of our economic action plan: one is to create badly needed jobs in the short term, and the other is to improve public infrastructure in the long term. We are accomplishing both of those objectives. We have seen since July the creation of more than 300,000 new jobs. Our plan is working.


Quebec Nation

    Mr. Speaker, 20 years after the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, the Conservative government has proven over the course of this parliamentary session that it will never back up its recognition of the Quebec nation with concrete measures. The government's bill to reduce Quebec's political weight in the House of Commons is evidence of that.
    Will the Prime Minister admit that, for him, recognizing the Quebec nation was merely symbolic and that what he really wants to do is marginalize it?
    Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, those of us on this side of the House have made it clear that we recognize the Quebec nation within a united Canada. The only party in the House of Commons still questioning that is the Bloc Québécois. Proportional representation by population is a basic principle in the 1867 Constitution.
    Mr. Speaker, that principle has been applied very generously in the case of Prince Edward Island.
    Federalism has been bad for the Quebec nation both politically and economically. The government is refusing to give Quebec the $2.2 billion it is owed for harmonizing its sales tax, despite having compensated the Atlantic provinces, Ontario and British Columbia.
    Is that not further proof that the Prime Minister could not care less about Quebec, its priorities or its National Assembly?
    On the contrary, Mr. Speaker. Again, this government's policy is to offer all provinces the opportunity to harmonize their sales taxes with the federal tax, the GST. Five provinces have decided to do that, but Quebec chose another route. It decided to keep two separate taxes. We want true tax harmonization. Negotiations with Quebec are ongoing, and I hope that Quebec will decide to harmonize its sales tax with the GST.


    Mr. Speaker, disputes with this government have multiplied. Open federalism has become predatory federalism. The issue of securities, in which the Conservatives want to take from Quebec to give to Ontario, is one example. The project is so flawed that the minister is incapable of clearly telling us whether or not it provides for the dismantling of the passport system.
    Could the Minister of Finance clearly tell us if the passports issued by regulators, such as the AMF, will be unconditionally recognized, should his commission ever see the light of day? Clearly, please.
    Mr. Speaker, as I have been saying, it will be a system that is—
    An hon. member: Voluntary.
    Hon. Jim Flaherty: Yes, it will be a voluntary system. You have listened closely. It is a voluntary system. That is correct. Voluntary means voluntary, nothing else.

Forestry Industry

    Mr. Speaker, this government turned its back on the Quebec forestry sector in favour of the auto sector, which is concentrated in Ontario. Although it gave $10 billion to the auto sector, it gave only $170 million to the entire forestry sector.
    Faced with such an imbalance, how can this government keep claiming that it defends the interests of Quebec, when it helps Ontario and not Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, how can the member make so many false claims in one question?
    We helped the forestry industry in Quebec and in the rest of the country. I remind the member that the loans given to the auto sector have almost all been repaid, and the companies continue to pay them back. We will continue to support the forestry industry in Quebec, while others will just talk, as in the fable we heard earlier.
    Today we heard yet more bad news about the market. The price of softwood lumber has gone down, but we will continue to support this industry. The market has been the problem from the beginning.



Air India

    Mr. Speaker, first, I have to give three thanks. I thank the families who called for an inquiry into the Air India tragedy so that no other Canadian families would have to suffer what they suffered through, I thank the government for calling the inquiry and I thank Justice Major for his very important report.
    I am hopeful, and perhaps the Prime Minister can give us an indication here, that he will be grabbing hold of the initiative offered by Justice Major to provide some coordination to our national security services to pull things together because there has been this attitude of complacency that he noted. I think it is an urgent matter that needs to be taken care of quickly. I would simply encourage the Prime Minister to do so.
    Mr. Speaker, I thank the leader of the NDP for his kind words and also for his support for this inquiry dating back to when we were in opposition. I have noted Justice Major's recommendations and his critique. I think I was very clear on the nature of that critique earlier today.
    Steps have been taken through the creation of the position of the national security advisor to provide greater coordination to our security apparatus. We have seen that pay off to some extent in cases like the Toronto 18. Clearly, more needs to be done and we will be acting on that.


G8 Summit

    Mr. Speaker, on another matter, from an organization standpoint the G8 summit is becoming more and more of a fiasco.
    The United States has announced that it does not want Americans to visit Toronto during the G8. This will harm businesses in our community. Small- and medium-sized businesses and other businesses that suffer losses will need help from the federal government. The management of this project is questionable at best, especially when small- and medium-sized businesses are not being put first and will suffer losses because of this summit.
    Mr. Speaker, as I have already indicated, the Government of Canada is not legally bound to pay compensation for losses suffered as a result of international meetings held in Canada. However, the policy in place is fair and has been effective in the past. It is the same policy that was in place for the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City and the summit in Kananaskis before that. The assessment of all claims will be made in close co-operation with Audit Services Canada.


    Mr. Speaker, world leaders are piling on the Conservative government when it comes to keeping the environment off the G20 agenda. The national health initiative turned sour because the government reopened the debate on abortion.
    Most recently, we had the UN special advisor, Jeffrey Sachs, slamming our Prime Minister and saying that Canada was failing to live up to the tradition of Lester Pearson by falling far short of his target for international aid.
    How can the Prime Minister explain such a blow to Canada's reputation?
    Mr. Speaker, first, Canada's initiative on maternal and child health has been widely welcomed by all of our G8 partners and, indeed, the wider international community. As I have indicated before, it is traditional to have some discussion of climate change at these conferences, but not in a way that interferes with the role of the United Nations process.
    As for development assistance, Canada is the first country in the world to have met all its international aid commitments, to have reached all of the goals set by the G8, the first one to do that across the entire world.

International Co-operation

    Mr. Speaker, the Conservative government's refusal to fund access to safe abortion where legal is not just unethical and paternalistic, it also flies in the face of the Standing Committee on the Status of Women, including government members, who yesterday recommended that access to safe abortion be funded by Canada at the G8.
    Will the Conservative government adopt the committee's recommendations and end its shameful denial of legal rights of mothers abroad?


    Mr. Speaker, I know the opposition wants to reopen this debate, but Canadians want us to focus on saving the lives of women and children. I am proud the members on the Status of Women committee from the Conservative Party are supporting a minority report that clearly states that witnesses urged the members of the committee to focus on helping women and children and to stop playing political games. Those witnesses are right. The members on this side of the House are correct, and I will be happy to table the report after question period.


    Mr. Speaker, the Conservatives claim they are helping women and children, yet they are ignoring the advice of experts.
    Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General, said that the Conservatives' refusal to fund safe abortions was “disappointing and far from accountable”.
    The Conservatives finally relented and added the environment to the G8 and G20 agendas.
    Will they listen to the international community and the majority of Canadians, and reconsider their regressive plan for maternal health?


    Mr. Speaker, the international community supports our plan to save the lives of women and children. In fact, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave praise to Canada. She said:
We commend the Canadian government for focusing attention on this issue by offering a flagship initiative on maternal and child health at the upcoming G8 meeting.
    The international community supports us, international aid agencies support us, the G8 supports us, Hillary Clinton supports us. I wish the opposition would support us.


    Mr. Speaker, Prairie farmers are facing their worst spring seeding situation in history. It is too wet and too cold and 30% of the crop is not yet in the ground and what is in, is being flooded out. The provincial governments say that they are willing to cost share a disaster program but they need specific information from the federal government by the first week in July.
     Exactly how much new funding is the agriculture minister asking from the Treasury Board to top up existing programs and will farmers have clear answers by the first week in July?
    Mr. Speaker, I am happy to report that I have working in close contact with industry in Saskatchewan as well as the minister of agriculture in Saskatchewan, Bob Bjornerud. We have putting our numbers together. We have been doing our assessments. We have extended the time frame on crop insurance. I know the crop reports that come on June 25 will be very helpful in moving forward.
    Mr. Speaker, just like the Minister of Agriculture fails farmers, the Minister of Transport fails them even worse. He allows the railways to gouge farmers with excessive freight rates. A study released yesterday shows farmers are overcharged by the railways on an average $200 million per year. That is $17,000 to $32,000 per farm, ripped off by the railways, condoned by the minister.
    Why no costing review and why does the Minister of Transport allow the railways to gouge farmers?
    Mr. Speaker, the only thing more hypocritical than the member for Malpeque standing on this issue is the Wheat Board buying into this crazy logic. Certainly farmers are involved when it comes to transportation. They rely on the Wheat Board to set the best price for them. The Wheat Board constantly brags it is doing that, now it is crying that it is not able to do it. Someone has the figures wrong.
     We are not hearing any concerns from canola and pulse growers, we are hearing concerns from Wheat Board growers because they cannot value add. They are forced to do buybacks, which costs them far more than this supposed increase in freight.
    I know the minister from Alberta in charge of transport is doing a great job on this review and it will be good news for farmers.


The Environment

    Mr. Speaker, the issue of fighting climate change illustrates the Conservatives' bias in favour of Canadian oil companies to the detriment of Quebec's green economy. By refusing to implement an effective plan to fight greenhouse gas emissions, the federal government is protecting the oil sands but damaging Quebec's economy, which would benefit from having a carbon exchange in Montreal.
    When will the Conservative government realize how much harm it is causing to Quebec and its economy by refusing to address climate change?
    Mr. Speaker, the opposition is attacking the government while respected international organizations are applauding our efforts. For instance, the March 2010 Pew report ranked Canada sixth for investment in green energy. In April 2010, the International Energy Agency congratulated Canada on its commitment to increase its clean electricity production. Yesterday, the same agency recognized the major efforts Canada is making to develop carbon storage.


    Mr. Speaker, the federal government has signed an agreement with Newfoundland and Nova Scotia regarding mining the seabed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The Government of Quebec has been calling for a similar agreement for 12 years. The government's stubbornness is preventing Quebec from making decisions under its own environmental assessment system, which is one of the best in the world.
    Why is the government refusing to give Quebec the same advantages it is giving to Newfoundland and Nova Scotia?


    Mr. Speaker, Quebec is continuing its evaluation of the opportunity presented by the hydrocarbon potential in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and adjacent onshore. The federal government is ready to work with the province of Quebec as we are with provinces all across the country to ensure the responsible and sustainable development of our natural resources across Canada.


Quebec Nation

    Mr. Speaker, this House recognized the Quebec nation but stubbornly refuses to give expression to that recognition. To strengthen its identity and protect its national culture, the needs of Quebec include having Bill 101 apply to enterprises under federal jurisdiction, a telecommunications and broadcasting commission of its own and an exemption from the multiculturalism act.
    Is the refusal of the Canadian parties to adopt our bills on these matters not proof that Canadian nation building is done at the expense of Quebec?
    Mr. Speaker, we have a good understanding of the Bloc Québécois' policies. It is just not in the interest of Quebeckers or Canada. Our government has programs, investments and laws that protect the identity of Quebeckers and also the national unity of Canada.


    Mr. Speaker, groups of Quebec's artists, creators, authors, publishers and even consumers are opposed to Bill C-32 on copyright because the bill ignores the consensus of the Quebec cultural community concerning the remuneration of artists through levies on digital audio recorders and through making Internet service providers more accountable.
    Will the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages admit that everyone in Quebec is opposed to his copyright vision, which benefits neither creators nor consumers?
    Mr. Speaker, the only thing the Bloc Québécois has proposed in this regard is a massive new tax directed at consumers, which would also affect artists. This is what the president of the Canadian Recording Industry Association had to say, “I do not think that is the solution. I do not think the artists will benefit. ...No one will benefit.”


    Here is what Loreena McKennitt, who is a Juno Award winning songwriter, said, “I too would oppose the itax. I would rather have a strict and predictable business model in which I can conduct my business as an artist”.
    That is what they need. They do not need an itax from the Bloc Québécois.


Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency

    Mr. Speaker, yesterday, in the House, the ACOA minister attacked the credibility of the member for New Brunswick Southwest. However, the member took it one step further that evening, confirming the very damaging discussions he had had with the Prime Minister.
    When will this government stop trying to interfere in New Brunswick's provincial politics? And when will the Prime Minister reprimand the ACOA minister?


    Mr. Speaker, fairness and equity, not politics, are the basis for all funding announcements as part of Canada's economic action plan in New Brunswick and in all of Canada.
    The member opposite talks about funding. His riding alone, under RInC and CAF, recreational infrastructure and the community adjustments fund, received $7 million worth of federal funding in projects, with no input from him.
    Mr. Speaker, the mayor of Moncton was here yesterday. He was asking for a lot more.
    There are allegations of the transport minister meddling in the Ottawa mayor's race. We had the Conservatives breaking election rules in the in and out scandal. Now the Prime Minister is withholding building Canada funding in New Brunswick Southwest until his former director of communications, John Williamson, has the riding nomination and can take credit on his own.
    What is wrong with the member for New Brunswick Southwest? Will the prime minister of prorogation admit and confirm that funding for the St. George civic project, which the member for New Brunswick Southwest wanted, will be confirmed and will be paid?


    Mr. Speaker, we have had a great relationship with this New Brunswick government, with the previous New Brunswick government. We have concluded literally dozens and dozens of projects, creating a lot of jobs in every corner of New Brunswick.
    We have been incredibly fair and incredibly decent. In fact, the project that the hon. member speaks of was one of the ones we considered last year, when the member for New Brunswick Southwest was the political minister, and regrettably we chose to fund other projects.

Sydney Harbour

    Mr. Speaker, today an all party delegation from Cape Breton has come to the Hill to push for the dredging of Sydney Harbour. The government has known about this project for years. The Cape Breton Regional Municipality, the province and the private sector are on side. The only seat empty is the federal government. Time is of—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Order, please. We have to have some order. The hon. member for Sydney—Victoria has the floor. We will want to hear the question.
    Mr. Speaker, time is of the essence. If the federal government continues to delay, the contractor will pull anchor and move on.
    Once again, when will the government commit to dredging Sydney Harbour?
    Mr. Speaker, that was darned interesting. I would like the member opposite to tell me what he did for 13 years. What that party do? Nothing. In fact, I am very pleased to meet with the committee this afternoon. After a request of two weeks, we are having it here this afternoon.
    The more important thing in the last year in Cape Breton alone is the $43 million worth of federal funding. That is what is important.
    I will tell you what the member did, Mr. Speaker. He put $400 million together to clean up the Sydney tar ponds. Then the Tory hacks tried to steal—
    Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
    Mr. Rodger Cuzner: —the minister has been nowhere on this file. There has been no voice on this. Where is it tied up? Either the Prime Minister is not listening or the minister is not speaking. It is one or the other. He did his job; you do yours.
    I assure the hon. member that I will. The hon. Minister of National Revenue, I believe, is rising to answer this question that may have been directed at me.
    Mr. Speaker, I can recommend some real good blood pressure medicine for the hon. member. Who announced the clean up of the Sydney tar ponds? This government did, and we are proud of it.


    Mr. Speaker, the brother and father of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez pleaded guilty yesterday to murdering her.


    Why was she killed? Because she refused to wear a hijab, which her father saw as an act of defiance and women's independence that brought shame on him. That is unacceptable.


    Will the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism tell the House our Conservative government's position on honour killings like this one?


    Is multiculturalism an excuse for honour killings?


    Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question.
    No, it is not an excuse. I want to be clear: multiculturalism is never an excuse for such crimes, particularly crimes against women and honour killings.
    That is why we included the following in the new citizenship guide, Discover Canada:
     In Canada, men and women are equal under the law. Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation, or other gender-based violence.
    This is something we condemn.


Tax-Free Savings Accounts

    Mr. Speaker, thousands of Canadians who opened tax-free savings accounts have now found out that these accounts are anything but tax free. In fact, they have become tax-grab savings accounts.
    People are facing huge penalties for over-contributing, because the rules are neither clear nor sensible. People who are simply replacing money they had withdrawn are now having their contributions double-counted, and they are being hit with massive penalties.
    Will the government admit that it screwed up, waive the penalties for people who contributed in good faith, and rewrite the rules to prevent this from happening in the future?
    Our government has built on our aggressive tax relief by reducing taxes on savings with the landmark tax-free savings account, the most important personal savings vehicle since RRSPs.
    The vast majority of the 4.6 million Canadians who opened a TFSA understood the rules and acted accordingly. Unfortunately, about 70,000 Canadians may have accidentally over-contributed to their TFSAs. We are not looking to unfairly punish those people.


    Mr. Speaker, there are currently at least 3.5 million Canadians living in poverty. This figure is totally unacceptable.
    Poverty costs this country $90 billion, an amount that one Conservative senator has called wasteful. This is a loss of potential and a loss of tax revenue.
    Yesterday we introduced a bold plan to end poverty in Canada. Will the Prime Minister admit to Canadians that we cannot afford poverty anymore? Will he finally show some leadership and commit to a comprehensive national poverty elimination strategy?
    Mr. Speaker, the hon. member would have a lot more credibility if he and his party would actually do something to help instead of talk about it.
    The facts are that since the previous government, we have seen poverty rates in this country decline. In fact, poverty rates among seniors are at a record low of 4.8%. Among children we are among the lowest in the world.
    Our government has taken numerous measures to improve the financial situation of Canadians. Sadly, every single time, they talk about it and vote against it.


Firearms Registry

    Mr. Speaker, a broad coalition in Quebec is calling for the firearms registry to be maintained. The National Assembly, public health experts, police officers and families of victims of crime all want the control of long guns to continue. However, the Conservatives and part of the NDP caucus want to dismantle the registry. In addition, there is no guarantee that the Liberals will vote in favour of the registry.
    Why does this government want to eliminate the long gun registry, a registry that saves lives and is universally supported in Quebec?


    Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak on behalf of the NDP or the Liberals. I know what commitments 20 of those members made, and they will have to answer for that to their constituents.
    Let me make clear one issue: While we support the licensing of people and the registration of prohibited and restricted weapons, we do not support the wasteful long gun registry. There are many effective ways that we could prevent crime, and I look forward to working with the member in that respect.


Young Offenders

    Mr. Speaker, the National Assembly of Quebec, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse, the Association québécoise Plaidoyer-Victimes, the Barreau du Québec, youth centres, the Regroupement des organismes de justice alternative du Québec and many other organizations all condemn the Conservative government's young offenders bill.
    Will the government amend its bill to comply with Quebec's rehabilitation model, an approach that for 25 years has given Quebec the lowest youth crime rate in Canada and one of the lowest in North America?



    Mr. Speaker, there is nothing in the bill that in any way interferes with provincial discretion or the programming of the province of Quebec.
    All I say to the hon. member is that he should have a look at the bill, and he will recognize that this is a reasonable, balanced approach that has the support of the Quebec police association, and more important, victims groups right across the province of Quebec. It should have his complete support.


    Mr. Speaker, Cape Spear lighthouse is a symbol of the province of Newfoundland and Labrador and is an iconic marker of the most easterly point in North America.
    The current government has announced plans to sell off or scrap the Cape Spear lighthouse, along with over 1,000 more lighthouses.
    At the same time, the government is building a fake lake and a fake landlocked lighthouse for the G8, a loony boondoggle.
    I ask the Minister of the Environment responsible for Parks Canada and national historic sites, how could he put a “for sale” sign on Cape Spear lighthouse?
    Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to have a question from the Liberal Party about the environment. I was puzzled about why its members rose today, but upon reflection, it is because this is, in fact, the anniversary of the expansion of the Nahanni National Park sixfold by this Conservative government.
    Perhaps that is not the real reason. I think the member rises because this is also the day that the order in council creating the Galapagos of the north, the Gwaii Haanas marine reserve, Canada's first marine national park, was finalized two hours ago.
    Mr. Speaker, the current government is using the new Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act to offload historical buildings. The wholesale dumping of lighthouses shows a complete disregard for these iconic structures.
    Instead of protecting lighthouses, the government is identifying those it considers surplus and is expecting others to take responsibility for them.
    The Conservatives have a bottomless pit of money for a fake lighthouse in Ontario, yet they turn their backs on heritage structures in the maritime provinces.
    How much money has the government budgeted to help those who will be forced to take over a lighthouse rather than see it fall into a state of disrepair?
    Mr. Speaker, I can assure the hon. member that prior to the new Heritage Lighthouse Protection Act, there was no plan in place to protect heritage lighthouses.
    This was a piece of legislation that was supported by all parties. What happened to the Liberal Party? It supported the legislation when it came in.

G8 and G20 Summits

    Mr. Speaker, at the height of the tourist season, the U.S. just asked its citizens to avoid Toronto. The Toronto Blue Jays, galleries, theatres, and even VIA Rail have been caged up and shut down. All the major Toronto mayoralty candidates have written to the Prime Minister to ask for help.
     Yet thousands of small businesses worried about damages are being told to go jump in that fake lake. The government will not compensate Torontonians for property damage caused by the G20 summit. Why will it not do that?
    Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada, as I mentioned before, is not legally bound to pay compensation for losses suffered as a result of international meetings.
    Nonetheless, there are precedents whereby compensation has been provided to those impacted by extraordinary security measures. The assessment of all claims will be made in close co-operation with Audit Services Canada.
    Mr. Speaker, there is no money for Canadians in need, but the ShamWow minister is apparently flush with cash.
    Highway travellers from Windsor to Toronto have faced shut down rest stops for more than a year. Meanwhile, money is being dumped into outhouses and bathrooms in remote parts of the minister's riding nowhere near the summit site.
    The government's G8 and G20 boondoggle is a skid mark on our country's reputation. How much higher must the pile of shenanigans get before we do anything about it?


    Mr. Speaker, as part of Canada's economic action plan, we are making investments in infrastructure in every corner of the country.
    I want to inform the House about the riding where we are going to be making the biggest investment in infrastructure in Canada. Does he want to know which it is? It is the member's riding. We are building a bridge to Detroit because the member for Essex has worked hard. We are going to create jobs. We are going to create opportunities, and a lot of those are going to be in the Windsor-Essex region.

Jazz Air

    Mr. Speaker, we are quickly approaching the summer season, which is the most heavily travelled quarter of the year. My constituents in Kelowna—Lake Country are very concerned that they will not be able to fly to their holiday destinations because of a potential work stoppage by Jazz Air. I know that our government has played an active role in bringing both sides to the table.
    Can the Minister of Labour please update the House on the progress of this labour dispute?
    Mr. Speaker, despite my active engagement, I am disappointed to report that Jazz Air and pilot negotiations have not resulted in a new agreement. Although no formal strike or lockout notice has been given, our government is taking action to prevent travellers from being stranded.
    Yesterday I gave notice of intent to table legislation in the House. Our economy remains fragile, and our priority is to protect Canadians who would be negatively affected by a work stoppage. People like business travellers, communities that rely on tourism, rural Canadians, and families planning summer travel will all be affected.
    We encourage the parties to return to the table and settle this matter expeditiously.

Foreign Affairs

    Mr. Speaker, for three years, Mohamed Kohail has been incarcerated in Saudi Arabia for a crime that he did not commit. At his initial trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to death, but the supreme council overruled that verdict and ordered a new trial on the basis of irregularities that denied Mohamed a fair and impartial hearing. Nonetheless, Mohamed could yet again face the death penalty.
    Will the Prime Minister use the occasion of the G20 summit to ask King Abdallah if Saudi officials will indeed closely monitor the proceedings of the new trial and if Mohamed could at least be released on bail while the second trial is conducted. Could he do the very same for our friend Pavel Kulisek, who is facing the same situation in Mexico?
    Mr. Speaker, Canada has pursued and will continue to pursue all avenues to assist Mohamed and Sultan Kohail. Our government has continuously raised this case with Saudi officials. We continue to raise the case of Mr. Kulisek, as well. We are closely engaged with the Mexican government on that file. We take all these cases very seriously.


Job Creation

    Mr. Speaker, Quebeckers expect the government at least to maintain existing jobs. But the Minister of Natural Resources is refusing to invite Shell to negotiate seriously with potential buyers. As for Davie Shipyards, the Conservative member for Lévis—Bellechasse is scaring creditors instead of guaranteeing that this company will have access to government contracts.
    How can this government claim to be creating jobs in Quebec when the Shell and Davie Shipyards cases prove it—
    Mr. Speaker, I sympathize with the workers at the refinery in Montreal. I understand that a union committee has been set up to find a buyer for this refinery.


    I know full well that the minister has been working full time on this, and he has been working with both sides. We expect them to come to some resolution on this issue.

Business of the House

[Business of the House]
    Mr. Speaker, this being Thursday, I would like to ask the government House leader about his plans for the period immediately ahead: tonight, tomorrow and until at least Wednesday of next week.
    I wonder, in answering the question, if he could indicate exactly how he proposes to dispose of the issue concerning pardons, which was previously known as Bill C-23. I think the House would be anxious to know the plan for bringing that matter to a conclusion where I believe there is agreement.
    Finally, could he be a little more precise on the matters pertaining to the industrial dispute in the air travel industry in Canada? The Minister of Labour answered a question during question period and it would be helpful to know if the government House leader has anything further to say.


    Mr. Speaker, first of all, perhaps to deal with the issue that was raised by one of my colleagues, the member for Kelowna—Lake Country, about Jazz Air, the Minister of Labour, who has been working diligently on this file for weeks now and certainly at an intensified rate over the last 48 to 72 hours, has addressed that issue.
    As she noted, the government filed a notice that appeared on the order paper this morning, indicating that were there to be a work stoppage that would threaten our communities serviced by Jazz Air, threaten the livelihoods of many Canadians, indeed inconvenience business, threaten the fragile economic recovery that we are seeing in all parts of Canada, but obviously would severely threaten the economic recovery in those parts serviced by that airline, the government is prepared to act expeditiously to ensure that work stoppage would be of the shortest possible duration.
    As for the business of the House, as it is the Thursday question, today we will continue to debate the opposition motion and then later this evening, the business of supply.
    In a few minutes, to address the other question that the official opposition House leader asked, I hope to create and complete, at all its remaining stages, Bill C-23A, an act to amend the Criminal Records Act. We will also be adopting, at all stages, Bill C-40, celebrating Canada's seniors.
    When the House meets again, we will continue to debate on Bill S-2, the sex offender registry, and Bill S-9, tackling auto theft.
    As we near the end of this sitting, I want to thank my colleagues for their co-operation, particularly in these last few weeks. We have had many challenges and I think we have met most of them. Most notably was the challenge of these two five-week sitting blocks. I would point out, however, that anyone who just watched question period would have to draw the conclusion that it truly is silly season here in the House of Commons, given the level of the debate.
    However, the challenge being that we had to be absent from our constituents and families, the upside of course was that we as members had the opportunity to spend so much quality time together. Just like any good family visit, unfortunately all good things must come to an end.
    I would also like to speak briefly to express my appreciation to the House staff who serve us so well.
    Some hon. members: Hear, hear!
    Hon. Jay Hill: Truly there are good feelings across the aisle here this afternoon. Mr. Speaker, in recognizing you, your staff, Madam Clerk, and all the staff that serve us so well, I would note that sometimes toward the end of these sessions, we see an accelerated rate of activity in trying to complete a lot of government business. I have certainly appreciated that. The staff, as always, has stepped up to the mark and even surpassed it, as usual, in getting the job done for Canadians.

Bill C-23--Instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security

    Mr. Speaker, I have two motions. The first one is a rather lengthy one. It deals with the new Bill C-23A. My counterparts in all the parties have copies of the proposed motion because it is quite lengthy. I will now table it and ask consent for it to be printed in Hansard as if it had been read to the House.
    Mr. Speaker, I hope you will find unanimous consent for its adoption.
    I move:
    That, notwithstanding any Standing Order or usual practice of the House, it be an instruction to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security that it divide Bill C-23, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, into two bills, namely Bill C-23A, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act, and Bill C-23B, An Act to amend the Criminal Records Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts;
that Bill C-23A be composed of
(a) a clause that sets out the short title as Limiting Pardons for Serious Crimes Act;
(b) clause 9 of Bill C-23, amended
(i) to renumber subsection 4(1) as section 4;
(ii) to amend sections 4 and 4.1 as follows:
    Restrictions on application for pardon
    4. A person is ineligible to apply for a pardon until the following period has elapsed after the expiry according to law of any sentence, including a sentence of imprisonment, a period of probation and the payment of any fine, imposed for an offence:
(a) 10 years, in the case of a serious personal injury offence within the meaning of section 752 of the Criminal Code, including manslaughter, for which the applicant was sentenced to imprisonment for a period of two years or more or an offence referred to in Schedule 1 that was prosecuted by indictment, or five years in the case of any other offence prosecuted by indictment, an offence referred to in Schedule 1 that is punishable on summary conviction or an offence that is a service offence within the meaning of the National Defence Act for which the offender was punished by a fine of more than two thousand dollars, detention for more than six months, dismissal from Her Majesty's service, imprisonment for more than six months or a punishment that is greater than imprisonment for less than two years in the scale of punishments set out in subsection 139(1) of that Act; or
(b) three years, in the case of an offence, other than one referred to in paragraph (a), that is punishable on summary conviction or that is a service offence within the meaning of the National Defence Act.
    4.1 (1) The Board may grant a pardon for an offence if the Board is satisfied that
(a) the applicant, during the applicable period referred to in section 4, has been of good conduct and has not been convicted of an offence under an Act of Parliament; and
(b) in the case of an offence referred to in paragraph 4(a), granting the pardon at that time would provide a measurable benefit to the applicant, would sustain his or her rehabilitation in society as a law-abiding citizen and would not bring the administration of justice into disrepute.
    Onus on applicant
    (2) In the case of an offence referred to in paragraph 4(a), the applicant has the onus of satisfying the Board that the pardon would provide a measurable benefit to the applicant and would sustain his or her rehabilitation in society as a law-abiding citizen.
    (3) In determining whether granting the pardon would bring the administration of justice into disrepute, the Board may consider
(a) the nature, gravity and duration of the offence;
(b) the circumstances surrounding the commission of the offence;
(c) information relating to the applicant's criminal history and, in the case of a service offence within the meaning of the National Defence Act, to any service offence history of the applicant that is relevant to the application; and
(d) any factor that is prescribed by regulation.
(iii) to delete the remainder of clause 9 of BIll C-23;
(c) clause 10 of Bill C-23, amended
(i) to amend section 4.2 by
deleting paragraph (1)(a);
deleting the words “if the applicant is eligible” from paragraph (1)(b);
substituting pardon for record suspension in subsections (1) and (2); and
(ii) to delete the remainder of clause 10 of Bill C-23;
(d) clause 12 of Bill C-23, amended as follows:
    Paragraph 5(a) of the Act is replaced by the following:
(a) is evidence of the fact that
(i) the Board, after making inquiries, was satisfied that the applicant for the pardon was of good conduct, and
(ii) the conviction in respect of which the pardon is granted should no longer reflect adversely on the applicant's character; and
(e) clause 15 of Bill C-23, amended
i. to amend subsection 6.3(2) by substituting pardon for record suspension; and
ii. to delete the remainder of subclause 15(1) of Bill C-23;
(f) clause 22 of Bill C-23, amended
i. to delete subclause 22(1) of Bill C-23; and
ii. to delete paragraph 9.1(c.2) in subclause 22(2) of Bill C-23;
(g) clause 24 of Bill C-23, amended to renumber the schedule to the Criminal Records Act as Schedule 2;
(h) a clause that adds to the Criminal Records Act a Schedule 1 having the same content as Schedule 1 in the schedule to Bill C-23;
(i) clause 46 of Bill C-23, amended
(i) to delete the words “as though it were an application for a record suspension”; and
(ii) to replace the reference to subsection 47(1) with a reference to section 47;
(j) clause 47 of Bill C-23, amended
(i) to delete subsection (2); and
(ii) to renumber subsection 47(1) as 47;
that Bill C-23B be composed of
(a) clauses 1 to 23 of Bill C-23;
(b) clause 24 of Bill C-23, amended to provide that Schedule 2 to the Criminal Records Act is replaced by the schedule set out in the schedule to the Bill;
(c) clauses 25 to 48 of Bill C-23; and
(d) a schedule that includes a Schedule 2 having the same content as Schedule 2 in the schedule to Bill C-23;
that Bills C-23A and C-23B be printed;
that, for the purposes of printing Bills C-23A and C-23B, the Law Clerk and Parliamentary Counsel be authorized to make any technical changes or corrections in those bills as may be necessary to give effect to this motion; and
that Bill C-23A be deemed to have been reported from the Committee without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed.


    Does the hon. government House leader have the unanimous consent of the House to propose this motion that we have not heard?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.
    The Speaker: The Chair has grave reservations about this practice. Given the unanimity, I will let it go ahead, but in my view, there are other ways of doing this that might be easier.
    Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion?
    Some hon. members: Agreed.

    (Motion agreed to)

    (Bill C-23A deemed reported from the committee without amendment, deemed concurred in at report stage and deemed read a third time and passed)

    The Speaker: The government House leader has a second motion, as I recall.

Celebrating Canada's Seniors Act

    (Bill C–40. On the Order: Government Orders:)